Speaking on Sunday, Nadhim Zahawi, defended the Prime Minister while also claiming the civil servant’s integrity, and professionalism was “beyond doubt”, ahead of the release of the report which is expected next week.
“The Prime Minister would never intervene in such an investigation and has not intervened,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge.
Asked on who called the meeting between the pair on Friday, Mr Zahawi claimed “he did not know” who arranged the conversation.
After further questioning, Mr Zahawi insisted: “What’s important is that the report has been conducted independently. The Prime Minister has never intervened and Sue Gray’s integrity and professionalism has never been in doubt.”
The Education Secretary went further, saying Ms Gray’s initial report did not “pull any punches” and that Mr Johnson would never interfere into an independent report despite being uncertain as to what the pair discussed.
In conclusion, Mr Zahawi insisted that although he did not know who called Friday’s meeting, he was sure that Ms Gray “would not allow herself to be influenced”.
Confusion sparked on Saturday after both Downing Street and a spokesperson for Ms Gray, denied calling the meeting on Friday.
Following reports of the pair’s conversation on Friday, a spokesman for Ms Gray told Sky News the civil servant did not initiate the meeting and disagreed with reports claiming photos were discussed.
In contrast, a No10 source said: “The PM did not request the meeting and hasn’t tried to influence the outcome in anyway. It’s rightly for Sue to decide and it’s all done independently.”
It comes as around 30 people, including Mr Johnson, are being contacted by the Cabinet Office to warn them of the contents of the document ahead of its publication, which is expected to include a detailed analysis of the parties investigated.
The Met declined to identify anyone in its £460,000 investigation which has now concluded.
A team of 12 detectives examined 345 documents, including emails, door logs, diary entries, witness statements and 204 questionnaires.
They also examined 510 photographs and CCTV images. Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were all fined over the birthday gathering.
But both Johnsons were told by police they face no further action, according to Downing Street, and Mr Sunak has not received an additional fine.
The Met said 28 individuals had received between two and five fines.