Partygate chief Sue Gray 'double dips' £1.8m pension with new role

Partygate chief Sue Gray ‘double dips’ her £1.8m pension with her six-figure salary from her role as Keir Starmer’s new fixer

  • Sue Gray, 65, will receive an annual pension of between £85,000 and £90,000 
  • She will take a £140,000 salary working for the Labour Party from September
  • The size of Ms Gray’s pension pot has seemingly raised eyebrows in Whitehall

Partygate investigator Sue Gray is free to draw from a £1.8 million pension pot while also taking a six-figure salary from Sir Keir Starmer as his new fixer, The Mail on Sunday has established.

Ms Gray, 65, was at the centre of a political storm when it was revealed she was leaving the Civil Service to become the Labour leader’s chief of staff.

In a case of so-called ‘double-dipping’, the former civil servant will receive an annual pension of between £85,000 and £90,000 now that she has quit Whitehall, and take her estimated £140,000 salary when she starts working for the Labour Party in September. 

She can also take a pension lump sum of between £256,000 and £260,000.

Earlier this month, a Cabinet Office inquiry concluded that Ms Gray’s failure to declare her contacts with Sir Keir – at a time when she was Second Permanent Secretary in the Levelling Up Department – was a prima facie breach of the Civil Service code.

Partygate investigator Sue Gray is free to draw from a £1.8 million pension pot while also taking a six-figure salary from Sir Keir Starmer as his new fixer, The Mail on Sunday has established

Earlier this month, a Cabinet Office inquiry concluded that Ms Gray’s failure to declare her contacts with Sir Keir Starmer – at a time when she was Second Permanent Secretary in the Levelling Up Department – was a prima facie breach of the Civil Service code

The move by Ms Gray, who carried out the Partygate inquiry into Boris Johnson’s behaviour at 10 Downing Street during the pandemic, led to a row over Civil Service neutrality.

The size of Ms Gray’s pension pot, which is substantial even by gold-plated Civil Service standards, has raised eyebrows in Whitehall.

One source even claimed it might have been ‘supplemented by the intelligence services’.

Ms Gray has faced unsubstantiated claims that when she suddenly left Whitehall in 1985 aged 27 to work at the Cove Bar in Northern Ireland with her husband, she was operating undercover as a spy.

The bar, which has since closed, was just ten minutes from the border with the Irish Republic in ‘bandit country’ in rural County Down, which was an area swarming with IRA gunmen.

When she was asked in a 2021 interview with the BBC whether she had been a spy, she replied: ‘I know you’ve had that put to you, um, and, er, I think if I was a spy I’d be a pretty poor spy!

‘If people are talking about me being a spy, um, I think people here have put a lot of trust in me and they’ve put a lot of faith in me, and, um, er, you know we’ve worked really well together and I didn’t think I’d be working externally in the way I am.’

Eight weeks into their time working at the bar, her husband Bill Conlon – the lead singer of a country and western band called Emerald – decided that he ‘hated it’ and returned to London. Ms Gray followed within a year.

Ms Gray resigned from the Cabinet Office in March after news of her tipped employment was leaked.

It was also before the role had been discussed with the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, the body that vets the roles that civil servants take after leaving Whitehall.

Sources said she had been in contact with Labour for more than four months by that point. Ms Gray declined to comment.

Cabinet Office data last week revealed civil servants are retiring three years earlier – at 62 – than the national average of 65 due to their generous public sector pension.

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