The chairman of the House of Commons science committee has been accused of misrepresenting the findings of a scientific report on Covid by cherry-picking lines as if it were “a West End review”.

In a May 2020 letter to then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Conservative MP Greg Clark used a line from a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) paper to call for the abolition of the two-meter social distancing rule.

But Clark forgot to mention that the following line in the paper, which dealt with transmission of the virus, argued against ending social distancing, today’s Covid inquiry hearing heard.

Referring to the evidence cited by Clarke, Catherine Noakes, building environmental engineering expert and contributor to the SAGE report, said: “It’s paragraph 44 in that paper and he had taken a line from it.”

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“The second sentence is ‘however’ and describes the fact that this model we were referring to actually had significant limitations.

“So essentially part of a paragraph was used, but not the rest of that paragraph.”

Hearing this, Baroness Heather Hallett, chair of the inquiry, added: “Sounds like a West End review.”

The inquiry is now 13 days into its second module, which focuses on the government’s response in the early stages of the pandemic.

Clark, chairman of the Science and Technology Committee and a former levels minister, referred to the “turbulent jet mixing theory” mentioned in the SAGE report in his letter to Johnson to justify reducing social distancing guidelines to 1.5 meters.

But he appeared to ignore a subsequent line that said infected particles and droplets “could travel a longer distance than expected.”

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