Joe Lycett says Sue Gray report stunt motivated by anger over friend’s death

The comedian Joe Lycett, who apparently caused chaos and “mass panic” in government when he tweeted a fake version of Sue Gray’s “partygate” report, has said his social media stunt was motivated by anger after the death of a close friend during the first lockdown.

Caroline Davies 

Lycett tweeted a parody Gray report with a fake Cabinet Office letterhead, titled: “A summary of my main findings”, captioning his tweet: “BREAKING: Leaked Sue Gray report reveals shocking abuse of rules. Hard to see how the PM can cling on after this.”

He later shared a message that he said came “from someone who works for a cabinet minister. Source verified.”

The message, purportedly from someone who works in parliament, read: “Your tweet this morning was read as an actual serious leak from Sue Gray’s report. U had MP staff literally running around panicking from what it said. Panic dialling MPs like we need to discuss this right now.”

Among the “findings” on his faked document, Lycett stated that at one party a “senior minister” insisted all cabinet ministers get on to a table and perform Pure & Simple by Hear’Say, that one of Johnson’s staff was referred to as “Twateral Flow”, and that a video of Johnson’s wife, Carrie, confirmed her attendance and she was overheard saying “it could be as few as four and as many as 60 kids”. Games were played called “Slow Dance” and “Pass the Arsehole”, the fake findings said.

He finished the fake report with: “Please forward any queries to my email”

Explaining his motivation, Lycett tweeted on Friday: “I wrote some jokes on Twitter, some dumb people (some in our government) found them plausible rather than funny and now I’m in most of the newspapers. I write comedy sometimes as a way of using anger.”

He said he was “angry right now probably for the same reason many other people are angry”. He explained that his best friend died from cancer in 2020 but he was unable to be there for him “because I was following the rules”.

“So I suppose like thousands of others with their own stories, I’m angry about that.”