23 April 2021 | NEWS
The Prime Minister’s former Chief Adviser, Dominic Cummings, has denied being the ‘chatty rat’ figure hunted by the Government for leaking sensitive information, calling for “an urgent Parliamentary inquiry” in an explosive blog post on his website.
Cummings, who was one of Boris Johnson’s closest allies following the Vote Leave campaign, concluded his 1,097-word defence by claiming that Mr Johnson had fallen “so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves”.
The ex-aide said he has made “the offer to hand over some private text messages” and added he “will co-operate fully” with any inquiry on the matter.
The blog article comes less than 24-hours after Downing Street accused Cummings of leaking text messages between the Prime Minister, Brexit-backing billionaire Sir James Dyson and a Saudi prince.
In messages sent in March 2020, Johnson assured Dyson that his employees would not pay extra tax if they relocated to Britain to make ventilators.
The Prime Minister said there was nothing “remotely dodgy or rum or weird or sleazy about trying to secure more ventilators at a time of a national pandemic”.
But Number 10 has come under increasing pressure in the past few weeks, with the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer prosecuting the Conservative Government’s “sleaze” and “cronyism”, as he referred to events.
Last night, a Number 10 insider told The Sun that Johnson was “deeply disappointed and saddened by what he thinks his former adviser has been doing and believes he is attempting to undermine the Government and the Conservative Party”.
The Evening Standard’s Sophia Sleigh said Cummings’ grenade was thrown as part of a “blue-on-blue week”, following the resignation of the Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer on Tuesday. Mr Mercer said that his resignation had in fact been forced.
However, Cummings said: “I was not directly or indirectly a/the source for the BBC/Kuenssberg story on the PM/Dyson texts.”
“I am happy for No 10 to publish every email I received and sent July 2019-November 2020 (with no exception other than, obviously, some national security/intelligence issues),” he added.
But the controversial political strategist also addressed claims that he or the then-Director of Communications, Lee Cain, were the lockdown leakers.
Cummings described how evidence compiled by the Cabinet Secretary pointed to Henry Newman, a close ally of the Prime Minister’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds.
He recounted a conversation he had about the findings with Johnson and claimed the Prime Minister had told him this outcome would cause “very serious problems with Carrie”, subsequently suggesting that the inquiry be halted.
The Prime Minister has denied these claims.
The final leak that Cummings’ blog post addressed concerned the flat renovations made in Number 11 Downing Street, reportedly costing £58,000.
“The PM,” he insisted, “stopped speaking to me about this matter in 2020 as I told him I thought his plans to have donors secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended.”
Cummings also said he “will not engage in media briefings” and said he would instead answer questions when he appears before Parliament on 26 May.
Since his blog post went live, he has tweeted:
However, The Financial Times reports that the Cabinet Secretary had brought in MI5 to investigate the source of the leaks, and that their inquiry had “pointed the finger” at Cummings.
Number 10 responded to Cummings’ blog post with the following statement: “At all times, the Government and ministers have acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law. Cabinet Office officials have been engaged and informed throughout and official advice has been followed.
“All reportable donations are transparently declared and published – either by the Electoral Commission or the House of Commons Registrar, in line with the requirements set out in electoral law. Gifts and benefits received in a Ministerial capacity are, and will continue to be, declared in transparency returns.”