Probe into Dominic Cummings business activities after leaving government

Watchdog has written to Boris Johnson’s former top adviser

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Thursday 08 July 2021 18:10
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Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings is the subject of a probe into his activities since leaving office, after failing to seek the advice of a watchdog monitoring conflicts of interest.

The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) has written to Mr Cummings after he set up a paid-for Substack blog and sought work as a management consultant following his resignation in November 2020.

The watchdog is looking into whether his activities breach rules which require former ministers, special advisers and senior civil servants to seek its advice on any business appointment within two years of leaving government.

Mr Cummings’ blog, for which subscribers are charged £10 a month, has featured private communications with the prime minister and others within government, as well as frank recollections of life within government and brutal assessments of senior politicians’ characters.

He published a text message in which Mr Johnson described then health secretary Matt Hancock as “f***ing hopeless” and a claim that the prime minister “lies — so blatantly, so naturally, so regularly — that there is no real distinction possible with him, as there is with normal people, between truth and lies”. At one point, he offered himself as a management consultant where “fees slide from zero to lots depending on who you are / your project…”

Acoba’s guidance states that former special advisers “must not, at any time, draw on any privileged information gained in office” and that they must consult the watchdog over any “longer-term arrangement” of speaking engagements, media appearances, and newspaper articles.

The watchdog’s correspondence with Mr Cummings, first revealed by Business Insider, is due to be published next week.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for political and constitutional reform Alistair Carmichael told the website: “Dominic Cummings did not care for the rule of law when he was in government so it’s little surprise he has no care for it when he is outside of government and looking to make money in new and innovative ways.”

There was no immediate response from Mr Cummings to a request for comment from The Independent.

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