People died unnecessarily because of Government failings during the coronavirus pandemic, Dominic Cummings told MPs.
Boris Johnson’s former aide said he was sorry that ministers, officials and advisers had fallen “disastrously short” of the standards the public should expect in a crisis.
Mr Cummings was giving evidence to the Commons health and science committees with No 10 braced for explosive claims about the Prime Minister’s handling of the pandemic.
“When the public needed us most the Government failed”
The former adviser, who left Downing Street last year after a behind-the-scenes power struggle, told the MPs: “The truth is that senior ministers, senior officials, senior advisers like me fell disastrously short of the standards that the public has a right to expect of its Government in a crisis like this.
“When the public needed us most the Government failed.
“I would like to say to all the families of those who died unnecessarily how sorry I am for the mistakes that were made and for my own mistakes at that.”
Mr Cummings said he regrets that he “did not follow up” and “push” on pandemic preparations at the end of January 2020, adding that it was not until the end of February that it was realised the plans were “hollow”.
He then explained what happened from Thursday 12 March.
At 7.48am he sent a message to the PM. He quotes the message. He told the PM the Cabinet Office was “terrifyingly shit”. He says the PM should tell people that day with symptoms to stay at home.
But he says the PM was then told that President Trump wanted the UK to join a bombing campaign later. So that took up a lot of attention, and the Covid Cobra meeting was delayed.
He says that day The Times ran a story about the PM and the girlfriend and his dog. The PM’s girlfriend wanted the press office to focus on that. She was “going crackers about something completely trivial”.
Helen MacNamara, the second most powerful civil servant, came in later that day to look at a potential plan B. She said she had been speaking to a Department of Health official who said that there was no plan and that the government was in trouble.
She said they were “absolutely fucked”, Cummings said.
He added that in February and early March Boris Johnson, and others, thought the most serious threat was to the economy, not to public health.
Cummings said he told PM to speed up introducing Covid measures on Wednesday 11th March.
He also told the Committee that people also thought they had more time than they did, because Covid was not expected to peak until June.
65/ First sketch of Plan B, PM study, Fri 13/3 eve – shown PM Sat 14/4: NB. Plan A ‘our plan’ breaks NHS,>4k p/day dead min.Plan B: lockdown, suppress, crash programs (tests/treatments/vaccines etc), escape 1st AND 2nd wave (squiggly line instead of 1 or 2 peaks)… details later pic.twitter.com/IRl0M3swSl— Dominic Cummings (@Dominic2306) May 26, 2021