Health Secretary Matt Hancock should have been fired for lying, says Cummings

26 May 2021, 11:53 | Updated: 26 May 2021, 16:27

Cabinet Secretary "lost confidence" in Matt Hancock

By Asher McShane

The PM's former adviser Dominic Cummings has told MPs that Matt Hancock should have been fired for multiple offences while giving explosive evidence on the government's handling of the Covid crisis.

According to Mr Cummings, the then cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill also recommended the move to dismiss Matt Hancock.

Mr Cummings told the Commons committee that Mr Hancock should have been sacked for lying.

"Like in much of the Government system, there were many brilliant people at relatively junior and middle levels who were terribly let down by senior leadership," he said.

"I think the Secretary of State for Health should've been fired for at least 15, 20 things, including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the Cabinet room and publicly.

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Dominic Cummings gave evidence to MPs today
Dominic Cummings gave evidence to MPs today. Picture: PA

"There's no doubt at all that many senior people performed far, far disastrously below the standards which the country has a right to expect. I think the Secretary of State for Health is certainly one of those people.

"I said repeatedly to the Prime Minister that he should be fired, so did the cabinet secretary, so did many other senior people."

He continued: "In mid-April, just before the Prime Minister and I were diagnosed with having Covid ourselves, the Secretary of State for Health told us in the Cabinet room everything is fine with PPE, we've got it all covered, etc, etc.

"When I came back, almost the first meeting I had in the Cabinet room was about the disaster over PPE and how we were actually completely short, hospitals all over the country were running out."

Mr Cummings also said that Matt Hancock was "completely wrong" on March 15 to say herd immunity was not part of the overall government response.

"That was the plan. I'm completely baffled as to why No 10 has tried to deny that because that was the official plan," Mr Cummings said.

In his evidence today, Mr Cummings went on to say that nations including Britain "completely failed" to see the warnings about the coronavirus pandemic in January last year.

He told the Commons committee: "It's obvious that the western world including Britain just completely failed to see the smoke and to hear the alarm bells in January, there's no doubt about it."

He said he told the private office in No 10 on January 25 that he wanted to look at pandemic planning and texted Health Secretary Matt Hancock on that day too.

Mr Cummings said that assurances given in January last year that pandemic preparations were brilliant "were basically completely hollow".

He said the health secretary told him: "We've got full plans up to and including pandemic levels regularly prepared and refreshed, CMOs and epidemiologists, we're stress testing now, it's our top tier risk register, we have an SR bid before this."