Partygate: Royal Navy captain Steve Higham caught up in Downing Street fiasco hands over command of HMS Prince of Wales

A ROYAL Navy captain caught up in the partygate scandal at Downing Street has handed over command of Britain’s newest aircraft carrier to another top officer, it can be revealed.

By Tom Cotterill
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 11:51 am
Updated Thursday, 26th May 2022, 11:13 am

Captain Steve Higham took command of HMS Prince of Wales in July 2021, leading the warship on her first deployment as a Nato flagship in the Arctic.

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He has now handed over command of the mighty 65,000-tonne warship to Captain Richard Hewitt. It’s understood Capt Higham is to become the director of Royal Navy strategy and policy.

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In a post shared on HMS Prince of Wales’s official Twitter account, Capt Higham said: ‘It's been a privilege to work alongside the women and men @HMSPWLS. Taking the Ship from Sea Training to become operational on her maiden deployment to the Arctic leading @NATO. This brilliant team have consistently operated with pride, passion & purpose.’

Previous to taking command of HMS Prince of Wales, Capt Higham had been a defence advisor to prime minister Boris Johnson in Downing Street.

In January, it was revealed a leaving do to mark Capt Higham’s departure from Number 10, on December 17, was one of the incidents named in the partygate scandal.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid, left, chancellor Rishi Sunak, centre, and prime minister Boris Johnson, right, walks towards the door of number 9, Downing Street ahead of a press conference on September 07, 2021 in London. Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

The Daily Mirror reported the PM was at the do ‘for a few minutes to thank him for his service’, as a ‘small number of No10 staff briefly said goodbye’.

A 37-page report into the various lockdown rule-breaking bashes in Downing Street, compiled by senior civil servant Sue Gray, has today been delivered to Boris Johnson and is expected to be made public later today.

As previously reported, the Metropolitan Police has issued 126 fines to 83 individuals, with 28 people receiving between two and five fines.

The PM received a fine relating to a gathering for his birthday, in Downing Street on June 19 2020. His wife Carrie and chancellor Rishi Sunak were also fined over the party. Others who have been fined have not been named.

Pictured:Captain Steve Higham on board of HMS Prince of Wales Picture: Habibur Rahman

Fines were issued for people who attended a number of rule-breaking events in Downing Street, including on December 17, when three events took place: two for the departure of officials - including Capt Higham’s - and a Christmas quiz. It is not known which event, however, the fines were issued for nor who received any fines.

Other fines were issued for:

May 20, 2020 - a garden party attended by the PM, to which staff were invited to ‘bring your own booze’.

June 18 2020 - a civil servant's leaving party.

HMS Prince of Wales pictured in the Arctic Credit: Lphot Bill Spurr

November 13 2020 - there were two gatherings - one to mark the departure of a special adviser and one in the Downing Street flat. It is not known which one the fines were issued for December 18 2020 - a Christmas party joked about in a leaked Downing Street press conference video.

January 14 2021 - a gathering was held in Downing Street for the departure of two No 10 private secretaries.

April 16 2021 - a leaving party for the former No 10 director of communications, James Slack..

HMS Prince of Wales is expected to be leading a Nato fleet in the Mediterranean for training for the summer.