Partygate: Mystery over 'independent investigation' into Sheffield Council chief executive Kate Josephs

An independent investigation has been launched into the chief executive of Sheffield Council but the authority has given no details about what this exactly means.

There are questions about who is leading the investigation, what their remit is and whether they will be paid.

The Sue Gray report confirmed that the Metropolitan Police will investigate a party that CEO Kate Josephs attended at the Cabinet Office on December 17, 2020.

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She was working as director general of the Covid Taskforce and held leaving drinks before starting her new role at Sheffield Council.

Kate Josephs is on paid leave from Sheffield Council following her involvement in the Partygate scandal.

Ms Josephs has been on paid leave from her £190,000 job for the last three weeks while senior officers run the authority.

Who is the independent investigator?

No details have been given about who they are nor their professional background.

There’s no information about their remit – will they report back before the Met Police investigation is concluded? Are they considering evidence and conducting interviews?

And is the investigator being paid and if so how much? The council will probably say it’s commercially sensitive but the council has a £14.5m blackhole in its budget this year and is raising council tax.

A cross party committee of councillors decided to appoint the investigator, who will report back to the committee once their findings are complete.

All the council will say is the committee is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, February 8.

The Sue Gray report

The report outlines 16 parties including: “17 December 2020: a gathering in Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall on the departure of a senior Cabinet Office official. Restrictions on gatherings of two or more people applied in London through December 2020.”

Four parties will not be subject to a police investigation – but the one on December 17 will.

Ms Josephs released a statement and apologised just minutes before a national newspaper published the story on January 14.

She had repeatedly denied to local journalists that she had been involved in any Downing Street parties.

Her statement said she had gathered with colleagues that were at work that day but it was later revealed an email was sent to 40 guests.

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