After four months of hearings, the accounts given by Cummings, Martin Reynolds as well as Lee Cain, his ex-communications chief, will provide potentially damning insight into the work of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street operation.
Reynolds, or “Party Marty”, was so dubbed after it was revealed he sent an email to more than 100 Downing Street staff about a “bring your own booze” event during the first lockdown.
He will be questioned by the inquiry this morning in a session beginning at 10.30 am.
Cummings takes centre stage on Tuesday in his first major public appearance since his evidence session before a committee MPs on the same topic of two years ago.
In that appearance, Cummings accused Johnson of not taking Covid seriously initially and suggested he changed his mind 10 times a day. He added that former health secretary Matt Hancock should have been sacked for lying.
He also said that his own trip to Barnard Castle, in County Durham, when he had Covid in 2020, which prompted his excuse that the excursion was to test his eyesight, had been a “terrible mistake”.
Former chancellor George Osborne has claimed that “disgusting and misogynistic” WhatsApp messages sent by Johnson and Cummings will be released as part of the inquiry’s workings this week.
Osborne told his podcast, co-hosted with former Labour cabinet minister Ed Balls: “From what I understand, there are some pretty staggering things that have been said on those WhatsApp messages … not just by Boris Johnson, but key advisers like Dominic Cummings. Really pretty disgusting language and misogynistic language.”
Alongside Cummings, Cain and Reynolds, other inquiry sessions this week involve former Deputy Cabinet Secretary Helen MacNamara on Wednesday, former NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens and DHSC perm sec Chris Wormald on Thursday.
The full list of attendees and timings can be found here.
One notable absentee during this week’s round of evidence sessions will be cabinet secretary Simon Case who is on medical leave.
The exchange took place on 20 September 2020, with the message sent by Dame McLean.
Lead counsel Hugo Keith asked Professor John Edmunds whether the comments could have been made in relation to the “eat out to help out” scheme, championed by Sunak, which ran in August 2020.
Professor Edmunds replied: “Honestly, it’s so long ago I wouldn’t know, but it could well be.”
Naomi Fulop, spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, responded at the time: “This inquiry has made clear that there was absolutely no consultation with the government’s scientific advisers on Eat Out to Help Out, that it contributed to the loss of thousands of lives, put unnecessary pressure on the NHS and plunged the country into a brutal second lockdown.
“It’s unbearable to think that if it wasn’t for Rishi Sunak’s reckless, unscientific and callous approach, my mum might still be with me.
“When our current chief scientific adviser has referred to our prime minister as ‘Dr Death’, how can any of us have faith in our government if another pandemic strikes?”.
This latest batch of WhatsApp messages and emails shown at the Covid inquiry also seemed to indicate that Dame McLean called Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England, a “f***wit
Earlier this month, the inquiry heard that Angela McLean, who is now the government’s chief scientific adviser, referred to another leading scientist, Carl Heneghan, as a “fuckwit”.
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