Dominic Cummings could breach code of conduct over newsletter plan

Dominic Cummings could breach code of conduct for special advisers if he releases £10-a-month newsletter revealing Government information, Downing Street warns

  • Ex-aide said he’d release evidence to support allegations against Matt Hancock
  • Health Secretary denies Mr Cummings’ claims over his handling of the pandemic
  • PM’s spokesman today pointed to code special advisers expected to abide by

Dominic Cummings could breach the code of conduct for special advisers if he releases a £10-a-month newsletter revealing Government information, Downing Street warned tonight.  

The former aide told ITV he would be releasing evidence ‘shortly’ to support a number of allegations he made against Matt Hancock over his handling of the pandemic, all of which the Health Secretary has denied.

And when asked whether No 10 would be responding to any documents released by Mr Cummings, the Prime Minister’s deputy spokesman pointed to the code of conduct that special advisers are expected to abide by, even after they have left post.

He said: ‘I’m not going to get drawn on that issue, I don’t think you’d expect me to comment on that, but as you’re aware all current and former special advisers are asked to act in full accordance with the special advisers’ code of conduct.’

Asked whether No 10 thought releasing his evidence would break the code, the spokesman said: ‘I’m not going to get into hypotheticals, as I said, we expect all current and former special advisers to act in full accordance with that code of conduct.’

Dominic Cummings could breach the code of conduct for special advisers if he releases a £10-a-month newsletter revealing Government information, Downing Street warned tonight

The former aide told ITV he would be releasing evidence ‘shortly’ to support a number of allegations he made against Matt Hancock over his handling of the pandemic, all of which the Health Secretary has denied

Hancock blows up the Domshells 

Matt Hancock hit back at Dominic Cummings as he insisted he had not lied to the Prime Minister and was not to blame for the deaths of thousands of care home residents.

Appearing before MPs for more than four hours, the Health Secretary blamed scientists for many of the mistakes that were made during the coronavirus pandemic.

He defended the timing of the first lockdown, saying that taking action earlier than March 23 last year would have gone against the scientific advice at the time.

And he claimed no one had died as a result of shortages in personal protective equipment.

Mr Hancock also revealed that at the start of the crisis, he was told that as many as 820,000 people could die from the disease.

And he demanded a thorough investigation into whether the virus had actually escaped from a Chinese laboratory.

Mr Hancock appeared before a joint meeting of the Commons science and health committees, two weeks after Mr Cummings told the same hearing that the Health Secretary could have been sacked on 15-20 occasions. 

The code of conduct says special advisers ‘should not disclose official information which has been communicated in confidence in government or received in confidence from others.

‘The preparation or dissemination of inappropriate material or personal attacks has no part to play in the job of being a special adviser as it has no part to play in the conduct of public life.

‘Any special adviser found to be disseminating inappropriate material will be subject to a disciplinary process that may include dismissal.’

It adds: ‘Special advisers must continue to observe their duties of confidentiality after they have left their employment as a special adviser.’

However since Mr Cummings is no longer working in No 10, it is not clear what any sanction could be.

Mr Cummings had accused the Health Secretary of lying, failing on care homes and ‘criminal, disgraceful behaviour’ on testing when he appeared in front of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee last month.

But the committees said this week Mr Cummings’ claims would remain unproven because he has failed to provide supporting evidence.

Mr Hancock said he has ‘no idea’ why he was targeted by the former aide but was aware he wanted him sacked, suggesting the aide briefed his desires to newspapers.

‘I think the best thing to say about this, and this will be corroborated by lots of people in Government, the best thing to say, is that Government has operated better in the past six months,’ the minister said. 

Appearing before MPs for more than four hours earlier this week, the Health Secretary blamed scientists for many of the mistakes that were made during the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, pictured around the table at the G7 summit in Cornwall, trusted Mr Cummings as a key advisor

He defended the timing of the first lockdown, saying that taking action earlier than March 23 last year would have gone against the scientific advice at the time.

And he claimed no one had died as a result of shortages in personal protective equipment. 

It comes as Mr Cummings, who left Downing Street in November after a behind-the-scenes power struggle, launched a profile on Substack, a newsletter platform that allows people to charge for newsletters.

In a post on the site on Thursday, Mr Cummings said he would be giving out information on the coronavirus pandemic for free, as well as some details of his time at Downing Street.

But revelations about ‘more recondite stuff on the media, Westminster, ‘inside No10′, how did we get Brexit done in 2019, the 2019 election etc’ will be available only to those who pay £10 a month for a subscription.

He said he also intended to use the platform to campaign for answers over the Covid pandemic and the Government’s handling of it.

Users can get some access for free but then can pay £100 a year, £10 a month, or £200 a year to become a ‘founding member’.

Meanwhile, Mr Cummings today reignited hostilities with the minister on social media.

Mathematician Timothy Gowers had tweeted that the Health Secretary was ‘still not getting that earlier => shorter’ when it comes to lockdowns, and Mr Cummings replied: ‘Exactly #SackHancock’. 

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