Boris Johnson apologized to Matt Hancock for the hiring of Dominic Cummings and the “damage” the ex-adviser caused to the UK’s Covid response, according to the former health secretary.

The claim is made in Mr Hancock’s written statement to the UK Covid-19 inquiry, released after he finished his personal evidence on Friday.

Mr Hancock used the first part of his appearance on Thursday to portray the former prime minister’s former chief adviser as a “bad actor” who subjected his staff to abuse as they dealt with the emergence of the coronavirus.

The former cabinet minister gives further details in his 176-page written statement, claiming Mr Cummings tried to “centralize” power to himself and worked during the pandemic response without the consent of the then prime minister.

The then Prime Minister apologized to me for the appointment of his chief adviser and for the damage he caused to the Covid-19 response

He also appears to suggest that Mr Cummings may have been behind the leaks from Downing Street, suggesting they stopped when Mr Johnson and his de facto chief of staff both fell ill with coronavirus in the spring of 2020.

Mr Hancock said Mr Cummings’ decision-making was “notoriously erratic” and described his alleged decision to maintain a ban on government ministers appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today program at the start of the pandemic as “beyond ridiculous”.

He said: “The then Prime Minister apologized to me for the appointment of his chief adviser and for the damage he caused to the response to Covid-19.”

Asked whether Mr Johnson had apologized for Mr Cummings’ hiring, the former prime minister’s spokesman said: “Boris Johnson will be at the Covid inquiry next week and looks forward to supporting the inquiry in its important work .”

Mr Hancock played a key role in the response to the pandemic, but his performance was repeatedly criticized by a number of other witnesses to the inquiry, including Mr Cummings.

When he gave his evidence on Thursday, the former health secretary responded that Mr Cummings had tried to influence decision-making in a way that was “inappropriate in a democracy”.

In his written comments, the MP addressed this argument, saying that in late February 2020 Mr Cummings had “initiated a decision-making process from No 10 which he believed should supersede the Prime Minister’s decision-making”.

He said a “big challenge” for the government in deciding on appropriate measures to tackle the virus was that “senior figures in No 10, including the Prime Minister’s chief adviser, actually disagreed with Mr Johnson” but instructions nonetheless granted “as if they had the full authority of the Prime Minister”.

Mr Hancock referred to the period in April 2020 when then-Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab took office while Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings were ill with Covid, explaining that “proper rules of accountability were far more respected during that time.” “.

In what appeared to be a thinly veiled swipe at Mr Cummings, he said: “This time was a very good example of how the state can act in times of crisis if conventions are respected.”

“Ministers do not play politics, and advisers do not leak government decisions to the media to impose their will or exert disproportionate influence on decision-making on behalf of their boss, without their boss’s approval.”

Mr Hancock sits as an independent MP after being stripped of the whip by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in November 2022 following the announcement that he would appear on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! Program.

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Source : www.newschainonline.com

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