Sue Gray Report: Sheffield's Kate Josephs issues 'unequivocal apology' after details of leaving do are laid bare

Sheffield council’s CEO says she is ‘truly sorry’ after details of her leaving do from Whitehall’s Covid taskforce have come to light.

Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 1:28 pm

The long-delayed Sue Gray report into the alleged lockdown breaking parties at the heart of Government was published today.

It includes details of how the then director general of the Covid taskforce Kate Josephs invited up to 40 staff to a boozy after hours event in Whitehall on December 17, 2020.

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Kate Josephs, chief executive of Sheffield Council.

The drinks marked her departure from the role – where she played a leading part in writing lockdown restrictions for the country – before she became CEO of Sheffield City Council.

She was reportedly fined £50 by the Met Police for the gathering in the first wave of FPNs in April.

Now, Ms Josephs has today (May 25) published her “unequivocal apology” on Twitter.

She has not resigned, commenting that she is “totally committed to our city and to the council”.

The post reads: “I want to reiterate my sincere and unequivocal apology for, on 17 December 2020, gathering with colleagues in the Cabinet Office as I left my previous job. I am truly sorry I did this and for the anger that people feel as a result. The specific facts of the event are set out in the Cabinet Office investigation report published today. I did not attend any events in 10 Downing Street.

"I am continuing to do everything asked of me by the Committee that Sheffield City Council have put in place to make decisions on my future as Chief Executive and do not want to prejudice or pre-empt that process, as such I will make no further statement until that process is complete. I remain totally committed to our city and to the Council.”

The report published today shows how up to 40 staff were invited to the five-hour ‘Covid secure drink’ event on December 17, 2020, when the UK was in a tier three lockdown.

The invite sent from Ms Josephs email on December 16 reads: “We are leaving the COVID taskforce :(

“Given higher COVID restrictions please do not travel into London for this if you wouldn’t otherwise have been in the office.

“We’d love it if you could join us for a farewell, COVID secure drink.”

Kate Josephs has been on leave since January 14 after confessing to attending the party in a social media post. She has been paid over £55,000 in that time.