A closely-watched investigation has found the U.K. government's behavior surrounding parties held during COVID-19 lockdowns "difficult to justify."
On Monday, civil servant Sue Gray released an update on her investigation into controversial gatherings held by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and staff while COVID-19 restrictions were in effect in the U.K., and she wrote that there were "failures of leadership and judgment" by the government, The Associated Press reports.
"Against the backdrop of the pandemic, when the government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behavior surrounding these gatherings is difficult to justify," the investigation update said. "At least some of the gatherings in question represent a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time."
Gray said "some of the events should not have been allowed to take place," and also criticized the "excessive consumption of alcohol" at the gatherings. The controversial gatherings that have been revealed in recent weeks include two held by Downing Street staff the night before Prince Philip's funeral. Gray investigated 16 different events, including a gathering for Johnson's birthday. Overall, the report was "a lot more critical than many had expected," CNN wrote, though The New York Times noted it didn't "directly implicate" Johnson himself in wrongdoing. According to AP, Gray's conclusions only relate to four of the gatherings, and her other findings are being withheld as police requested.
Johnson has resisted calls to resign over the gatherings. On Monday, he apologized and said he accepted the report's findings. "I'm sorry for the things we simply didn't get right," Johnson said, "and also sorry for the way that this matter has been handled."