'Lawbreaking' Partygate official to become UK envoy to Saudi Arabia

'Lawbreaking' Partygate official to become UK envoy to Saudi Arabia
Martin Reynolds, a former principal private secretary to Boris Johnson who resigned amid outrage over the partying culture at 10 Downing Street during the Covid-19 pandemic, is expected to become the next UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
2 min read
30 May, 2022
Martin Reynolds previously served as the UK ambassador to Libya [source: Getty]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to appoint Martin Reynolds, a rule-breaking official implicated in the infamous 'Partygate' scandal, as the next UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia. 

Reynolds, an Oxbridge graduate and UK Foreign Office veteran, resigned as Johnson’s Principal Private Secretary earlier this year amid outrage over successive partying by 10 Downing Street during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The former ambassador to Libya was mentioned 24 times in Sue Gray's report, with the most scandalous offence involving a "bring your own booze" party in Johnson's back garden just after a Covid-19 press conference. 

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"A complete non-story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with)," wrote Reynolds the next day according to Gray’s inquiry. 

Following his resignation, Reynolds was shuttled back to the Foreign Office. Plans are currently underway to send him to Riyadh as the UK envoy, according to multiple British newspaper reports. 

Senior Tory members have expressed dismay over the looming diplomatic appointment. 

"The ambassador represents the Queen," said one senior figure, as reported by The Guardian. 

"It is pretty extraordinary that someone who has deliberately and knowingly broken the law should be appointed to represent her." 

There has been no official government announcement about a change in UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia yet and the prime ministers office has not formally commented on Reynolds' potential appointment. 

Johnson visited the Gulf kingdom in March, defending his trip on account of the global oil crisis after Russia invaded Ukraine. "We have long, long-standing relationships with this part of the world," he said. 

Saudi Arabia confirmed at Davos last week that it will not lift strict bans on the sale of alcohol as the country opens up as an international tourist destination.