Joe Lycett says anger sparked parody Sue Gray report: “My best friend died in lockdown”

“To hell with my dead friend, they think, and all your dead friends and dead relatives”

Joe Lycett has said anger at the government motivated him to write a parody Sue Gray report following the death of his friend during lockdown.

Earlier this week (January 27), the comedian released a spoof version of Gray’s report investigating the numerous lockdown parties at Downing Street.

After it went viral on social media, Lycett screenshotted an exchange he had with a government worker, who claimed the parody was “read as an actual serious leak” within government that left “MP staff literally running around panicking”.

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Since the incident caught headlines, Lycett has released a statement explaining the parody report was driven by anger after his friend died from cancer in 2020.

“I write comedy sometimes as a way of anger,” Lycett wrote. “I write a daft letter about a parking fine or change my name to Hugo Boss or fake a Sue Gray report, all essentially because I’m angry. I’m angry right now probably for the same reason many other people are angry.

“In the early stages of lockdown in 2020 my best friend died from cancer. He was the person who had been with me through my journey in comedy the most closely; he had been to the smallest pub gigs all the way up to the Apollo and when I was first on Graham Norton. He had been ill for a number of years and towards the end I had helped as a part time carer. I watched him slip away, gradually, over months, and all that comes with it. It’s a long story for another time.

“But he died, at the start of lockdown, and I wasn’t there because I was following the rules, and we had a tiny insufficient funeral, because we were following the rules, and I drove his kids away from that funeral back to Birmingham without any sort of wake, because we were following the rules, and it felt unnatural and cruel and almost silly, but we did it because we followed the rules. So I suppose like thousands of others with their own stories, I’m angry about that.”

Lycett added that while he’s not “in the business of trashing [tories] for the sake of it”, the current government is “about power and little else”.

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“They torch traditions and institutions with ease if it helps them retain their grip,” Lycett added. “To hell with my dead friend, they think, and all your dead friends and dead relatives. You followed the rules and we didn’t but we’re in power and that’s all that matters so spin on it.”

Rounding off the post, Lycett wrote: “But for now you might wonder how it feels to have been described in the papers as having caused these people ‘chaos’ and ‘mayhem’ and ‘mass panic’ because of a few jokes. Let me be clear: it feels absolutely fucking fantastic.”

In the fake report, Lycett wrote that games were played in Downing Street such as ‘Pass the Arsehole’, WhatsApp groups were created titled ‘Down It Street’, while a senior minister insisted cabinet ministers perform ‘Pure & Simple’ by Hear’Say on tables.

The comedian also duped culture secretary Nadine Dorries with a tweet pretending to show support for Boris Johnson – which was shared by her and deleted shortly afterwards.

Gray’s report was expected to be released this week but after the Met police announced they were investigating the alleged COVID breaches, the timing is now unclear.

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