A minister has this morning rejected speculation that the prime minister may have called a meeting with Sue Gray to “pressure” her over her “partygate” investigation.

Chief secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke told Sky News that Gray herself “instigated” the talks.

“I do not believe that this meeting was anything other than a discussion of the technicalities of the process,” he went on.

“As I say, it would be genuinely wrong to impugn that there has been any pressure put on the nature of this report, in any way.”

Clarke also dismissed the idea that the PM might have rejected the meeting, explaining that while “he could have done… I don’t think that in any way it would have been improper, indeed it would have been somewhat churlish I think to have declined to have met.” 

Clarke said the meeting had been held to discuss “practical questions” ahead of the full report’s publication, including “who can be named in this report and the extent to which photographic evidence can be included.”

“It is important that those practical dimensions are resolved. Do I think in any way that the integrity of this report should be questioned? No, because as I say Sue Gray has a reputation which dates back decades in terms of her ability to make judgements without fear or favour and I think she will absolutely deliver on that basis,” he continued.