COVID-19: Dominic Cummings yet to provide evidence to back up explosive claims about government’s pandemic response

Dominic Cummings has yet to provide evidence to back up the claims he made in a marathon session on the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, MPs have said.

Boris Johnson‘s former chief adviser made a number of explosive assertions when he appeared before MPs last month.

He claimed that the prime minister treated COVID-19 like a “scare story”, Health Secretary Matt Hancock should have been “sacked for lying”, and many ministers were “literally skiing” as the pandemic was developing early last year.

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Mr Cummings also said he heard Mr Johnson say he would rather see “bodies pile high” than go into a third lockdown – something which the PM has flatly denied.

In addition, he said the government’s assertion that it had placed a “shield” around care homes in the early months of the pandemic was “complete nonsense”.

Mr Cummings said he would provide evidence to back up his allegations.

The Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee wrote to him on 1 June, setting a deadline of last Friday (4 June) for the material.

On Wednesday they published the letter in full.

“We have published our letter to Dominic Cummings requesting documentary and supporting evidence,” the Science and Technology Committee said in a tweet.

“To date, we have not received a response.”

In their letter, the committees say Mr Cummings made “several serious allegations”.

“We appreciate that providing documentary evidence of these conversations may not be possible,” the MPs note.

“However we are sure you understand that without further evidence we have to consider these allegations as unsubstantiated.”

The committee asked for evidence to back up a number of Mr Cummings’ claims about the health secretary – who was a particular focus of his ire during his evidence:

• Evidence that Mr Hancock was briefed by the government’s chief scientific adviser that not everybody who required treatment for COVID-19 received it
• Evidence that the Cabinet secretary said he had “lost confidence” in the health secretary’s “honesty”, including Mr Cummings’ contemporary note of this comment
• Evidence that Mr Hancock interfered in the expanding of testing capacity in April 2020
• Evidence to clarify what assurances Mr Cummings, the PM or cabinet were given and when, that patients being discharged from hospital into social care were being tested, and by whom these assurances were given

The committee also asked for a number of written exchanges between Mr Cummings and key figures, including the PM and Mr Hancock, as well as key documents and evidence to back up his more general claims about the government’s pandemic response.

This includes evidence on the advice given in the run-up to the introduction of tiered restrictions in October and the imposition of a second national lockdown weeks later.

In particular, the MPs asked for evidence to substantiate Mr Cummings’ allegation that Mr Johnson “ignored” advice to introduce a short lockdown in September.

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