Former aide accuses UK PM Boris Johnson of lying over Covid response

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: May 23, 2021, 04:18 PM IST

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (file photo). Photograph:(Reuters)

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The influential adviser was sacked at the end of last year, and has recently been involved in a war of words with Downing Street

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing allegations of lying over country's Covid pandemic response Former chief adviser Dominic Cummings has made the accusation ahead of a much-anticipated hearing into Britain's coronavirus response. The allegation is that Johnson lied about the strategy of herd immunity when the pandemic first hit Britain.

He is due to give evidence to House of Commons select committees on health and science on Wednesday. Cummings has already suggested that he has a crucial document that'll expose the government's handling of the pandemic.

The influential adviser was sacked at the end of last year, and has recently been involved in a war of words with Downing Street, which accused him of leaking internal conversations and documents to the media.

Cummings tweeted that the government initially intended to treat the virus-like the flu and pursue a strategy of herd immunity by building up natural defences, but Johnson has denied that was ever the official plan.

"No 10 decided to lie... V foolish, & appalling ethics, to lie about it," Cummings tweeted late Saturday. 

Herd immunity by September 2020 "was literally the official plan," he said.

"The right line wd have been what PM knows is true: our original plan was wrong & we changed when we realised," he added.

The initial herd immunity strategy was abandoned less than two weeks before the first lockdown in March 2020 and "is a fundamental issue in the whole disaster", he also said.

"If we'd had the right preparations + competent people in charge, we wd probably have avoided lockdown1, *definitely* no need for lockdowns 2&3," he wrote.

Chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance suggested in March 2021 that herd immunity was one of the goals, but Health Secretary Matt Hancock two days later said it was "not a goal or strategy".

The former adviser warned he will release a "crucial historical document from Covid decision-making" to the Commons committee ahead of his appearance before MPs on Wednesday.

Cummings is constrained by the Official Secrets Act, which limits his ability to release classified documents.

MPs can only release documents that relate to their "lessons learned inquiry" into the pandemic.

Johnson has ordered a full public inquiry into how the pandemic was handled.

(With inputs from agencies)