Who is Lee Cain? Boris Johnson’s ex-adviser gives key partygate evidence

Daniel Munro

Who is Lee Cain? A journalist turned political advisor, we explore the life and career of the former Number 10 aid amidst the latest updates in the ongoing partygate saga.

Parliament has today, March 22, continued its lengthy investigation into alleged parties that are said to have occurred in Downing Street during the first covid-19 lockdown.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared in front of a committee of MPs and faced three hours of questions about his possible role in the gatherings that were reported to have broken the social distancing rules in place at the time.

And it has transpired that Lee Cain, who used to work closely to Johnson during his Downing St tenure, has provided the inquiry with a “damming” piece of evidence, but who actually is he?

Who is Lee Cain? Early days of journalism career explored

Before he became a rather important figure behind the scenes of UK politics, Cain worked as a journalist at a number of big British tabloid names, having graduated from Staffordshire University.

Cain, who grew up in Lancashire, plied his trade at a local paper – The Gloucester Citizen, before going on to have spells at The Sun and The Mirror, and it was at the latter where he made the headlines for a rather bizarre reason.

During the 2010 general election campaign, Cain was sent by The Mirror to hassle would-be Prime Minister David Cameron while wearing a chicken suit, in a PR stunt dubbed “Malcom Clucker’, a nod to the infamous The Thick Of It character, Malcom Tucker.

British opposition Conservative party le
Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Cain subsequently departed the journalism world to become a media advisor for an Australian law firm, Slater & Gordon, a role that prepared him for his pivot to politics.

Cain held key role during early days of covid-19

Cain’s first political gig saw him lead the broadcast department of the Vote Leave campaign, who led the charge towards Britain’s exit from the EU.

Following the Leave campaign’s success, Cain was offered a government role in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, before stepping down from working under Theresa May to join Johnson at the foreign office when he was the Secretary of State.

Johnson resigned from his role as Secretary of State in July 2018, and Cain followed – remaining in an advisory position to Johnson while he was sat on the backbenches.

When Johnson was eventually elected as Prime Minister in December 2019, Cain became Downing Street’s Director of Communications, and it was claimed by an anonymous adviser that when Johnson was hospitalised with covid-19, that “Lee was running the country” behind the scenes for “quite some time”.

Cain’s role in the ‘partygate’ scandal explored

As Parliament continues to pry into what happened behind closed doors during the multiple covid-19 lockdowns, one piece of evidence given by Lee may prove to be rather important.

The written statement was composed by Lee on January 27, 2023, and saw the ex-adviser discuss an alleged garden party, that is said to have had hundreds of attendees, in spite of rules that prevented such gatherings at the time.

Discussing the garden party, Lee wrote that he had received an invitation to a garden party in May 2020 from Martin Reynolds, a civil servant, and that he was strongly against the idea of the party taking place.

At the time of writing, the parliamentary investigation into Johnson remains ongoing, with the committee group not expected to deliver their findings until summer 2023.

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