Sue Gray’s report into COVID rule breaches at 10 Downing Street remains to be published in full, and to what extent rules were breached may never become public knowledge.

However, one thing has been made clear, and that is that any breaches were sufficiently serious to merit a police investigation.

While the media focus is on the Prime Minister it is as yet uncertain whether or not internal disciplinary action will be taken against civil servants as a result of the Sue Gray report.  So how does the disciplinary process operate at 10 Downing Street, and how can these civil servants expect to be treated?

Suzanne Staunton, Employment Partner at JMW Solicitors, says they will be treated just like any employee:

“The Government will need to ensure that their process complies with their internal disciplinary procedures. Importantly, they will need to ensure that the disciplinary investigation is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances.

“What a “reasonable investigation” looks like could hugely differ among civil servants; if, for example, there is a time stamped video where a civil servant is clearly identifiable, and they are flagrantly breaching lockdown rules, then as there is clear proof of their alleged misconduct, the Government will need to interview that individual to understand their account, and then will need to fairly balance all evidence and mitigation, before coming to a conclusion.

“Contrastingly, if the allegations are mere hearsay and there is no such video, a full investigation examining accounts from both sides, and scrutinising any documentary evidence they had access to (like mobile phones or emails) would be necessary as part of a reasonable investigation. Additionally, the Government would need to look at any mitigating circumstances.”

It seems therefore, for the office staff at least, they can be fired just like any other employee – as for the PM, it’s up to MPs in his party to decide whether he keeps his job.