Thursday, 28 May 2020

Cassandrafreude over Cummings

Latest letters to the Editor sent  respectively to The Times, Guardian and Financial Times:

You report the Prime Minister as telling the Liaison Committee hearing in Wednesday (“ Move on from Cummings, PM urges as Tory rebellion swells,” The Times,  May 28) that while he had evidence to back up Mr Cummings various claims  he did not break  rules, but refused both to publish it or hand it to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, to be verified.

In a phrase classicist Boris Johnson would comprehend “nullius in verba” ( don’t just trust what someone says)
That also happens to be the basic research principle of the Royal Society, dating from 1660.

I watched with increasing incredulity Dom Cummings extraordinary press conference on Monday afternoon. 

Archie Bland did a good job in summarising what Cummings told reporters and the wider nation via the broadcast media ( ‘A very tricky situation’ Cummings explained why he took his family to Durham,” The Guardian, 26 May).

But there were some parts of the narrative that just did not make any sense: if he had sight problems, why didn’t his wife drive back to London; why didn’t  they seek the help of Mrs Cummings’ brother, who lives a few streets away in London etc)

Freelance investigative journalist, Jenny Kleeman reviewing the papers on Sky News on Monday night suggested Cummings had “reverse engineered” a  plausible narrative to fit between the publicly known facts.

Is that what he and his boss Boris were doing hunkered down for five hours in Downing Street on Sunday afternoon?
Your Whitehall editor Sebastian Payne reported on 30 March (“Dominic Cummings develops Coronavirus symptoms” Financial Times) that the Prime  Minister’s chief policy advisor “will remain at his London home for the next seven days.”

By the time this article appeared, Me Cummings was already in a house adjoining his parents home near Durham.

As I have every confidence your reporter did not make up the claimed location of Mr Cummings , he must have been briefed by an official at 10 Downing Street, Mr Cummings‘ place of work.
So, either the briefer really did not know where the prime minister main policy architect could be found, but guessed;  or deliberately misinformed your reporter.

If the latter, what was the reason for doing so?

It all gets curiouser  and curiouser, as Alice pondered in Wonderland.

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