Three national newspapers last night splashed on No. 10 source claims that Dominic Cummings was responsible for WhatsApp leaks about Boris Johnson's government. Less than 24 hours later the former chief adviser has opted to return fire, unleashing a 1,091 blog post in vintage Cummings style.
It begins in typically combative style – 'the Prime Minister’s new director of communications Jack Doyle, at the PM’s request, has made a number of false accusations to the media' – going on to rebut reported claims in recent months. You can read the full version here but below are the top three 'Dom bombs' picked out by Steerpike:
1) Cummings claims Henry Newman was responsible for the 'chatty rat' leak
In December the government was forced to hurriedly announce plans for a second national lockdown after they were leaked late on Friday night to several newspapers. A subsequent inquiry was announced into the so-called 'chatty rat' leak, to be headed by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case. Cummings claims that it was Michael Gove's onetime aide and now senior No 10 adviser Henry Newman who was responsible for news of the imminent lockdown leaking out. Newman is yet to respond to Cummings who claimed:
“The Cabinet Secretary told the PM that the leak was neither me nor the then Director of Communications and that ‘all the evidence definitely leads to Henry Newman and others in that office, I’m just trying to get the communications data to prove it’.
2) Johnson allegedly asked Cummings to kill the 'Chatty Rat' leak inquiry to save Carrie's blushes
Cummings claims that Simon Case told him and Boris Johnson that Henry Newman was the source of the leak – news which made the Prime Minister 'very upset' because, as he told Cummings subsequently:
“If Newman is confirmed as the leaker then I will have to fire him, and this will cause me very serious problems with Carrie as they’re best friends … [pause] perhaps we could get the Cabinet Secretary to stop the leak inquiry?
Cummings claims that he told Johnson this was 'mad' and 'totally unethical' and that he could not possibly cancel an inquiry about a leak that affected millions of people 'just because it might implicate his girlfriend’s friends.' He adds that he refused to try to persuade Simon Case to stop the inquiry, instead urging him to conduct it 'without any concern for political ramifications.' He says he will be willing to give evidence under oath that he warned officials that Johnson was thinking about cancelling the inquiry and that he has WhatsApp messages from very senior officials to prove this.
3) Cummings warned Johnson his No 10 flat renovation was unethical
Cummings claims that the Prime Minister’s director of communications Jack Doyle made accusations about his role in the leaks concerning Johnson's renovation of his No 10 flat. But he says his role was limited as Johnson stopped talking to him about the matter in 2020 after Cummings told him plainly that:
“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.
He says he refused to help organise payments and that he 'would be happy to tell the Cabinet Secretary or Electoral Commission what I know concerning this matter.'