Home Europe Boris Johnson’s former top adviser attacks PM over leak claims

Boris Johnson’s former top adviser attacks PM over leak claims

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LONDON — Dominic Cummings, who was once Boris Johnson’s righthand man, has launched a damning attack on his former boss, accusing him of favoring his fiancée’s friends and pursuing “unethical” funding for a redesign of the No. 10 flat where the PM and his partner live.

The former Downing Street aide made his accusations in a blog published Friday, hitting back at reports in U.K. newspapers that Cummings had been responsible for a recent leak of the prime minister’s text messages.

The Sun, Times and Telegraph all carried stories on Friday morning that Cummings had leaked communications between Johnson and billionaire inventor James Dyson about tax arrangements for employees working to provide the U.K. with ventilators. Downing Street sources were cited as saying it had been an act of “bitterness” by Cummings, who was sacked by Johnson in November last year.

In his statement, Cummings categorically denied that he was responsible, offered to make his private messages available, and made a series of other incendiary claims.

He suggested another Downing Street aide, Henry Newman, had briefed journalists about news of a fresh lockdown last autumn, which was highly controversial as it bypassed an official announcement.

Cummings said that in a subsequent inquiry into the leak Johnson had not wanted to pursue Newman as the source because “it will cause me very serious problems with Carrie [Symonds, Johnson’s fiancée].”

The former Leave campaign chief wrote: “I told him 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 further claimed that Johnson planned to have Conservative Party donors “secretly” pay for refurbishing his Downing Street residence, and that Cummings advised him this was “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations.”

The Cabinet Office published documents Friday stating that the prime minister met the renovation costs himself, although it is believed donors had previously been asked to contribute.

Cummings concluded his blog by saying: “The proper way for such issues to be handled is via an urgent parliamentary inquiry into the government’s conduct over the Covid crisis which ought to take evidence from all key players under oath and have access to documents.”

He added: “It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves.”

His intervention follows the announcement of a Cabinet Office inquiry into the source of leaked text messages between Johnson and Dyson, in which the prime minister promised to “fix” a tax issue for the billionaire.

Johnson defended his actions Friday, telling reporters: “If you think there is anything remotely dodgy or rum or sleazy about trying to secure more ventilators at a time of a national pandemic, I think you’re out of your mind.” No. 10 Downing Street did not respond to a request for comment.

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