Coronavirus: Downing Street confirms Dominic Cummings has listened in on meetings of scientific advisory group

Derrick Santistevan

Downing Street has validated Dominic Cummings has listened in on meetings with senior researchers encouraging the federal government on the coronavirus break out – however has rejected claims he is part of the deceptive group.

Opposition celebrations have actually stated political advisors have no business going to the meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergency Situations (Sage) and have actually required its considerations to be opened to broader analysis.

Mr Cummings, the prime minster’s chief consultant, was amongst 23 guests at an essential Sage conference when an across the country lockdown was revealed on 23 March, The Guardian reported.

Ben Warner, an information researcher who dealt with Mr Cummings on the Vote Leave campaign throughout the Brexit referendum, was likewise stated to have actually existed at the conference.

Sage, which supplies scientific and technical suggestions to assistance decision makers throughout emergency situations, has been encouraging the federal government on the coronavirus break out.

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Sir David King, a former federal government chief scientific consultant, stated he was “shocked” to discover that there were political figures included in Sage meetings.

He informed The Guardian: “If you are offering science suggestions, your suggestions needs to be totally free of any political predisposition.

“That is just so critically important.”

A Number 10 spokesperson validated in a strongly-worded declaration that Mr Cummings and Dr Warner had actually gone to or listened in to Sage meetings, however rejected they had in any method impacted the group’s suggestions.

The spokesperson stated: “It is not true that Mr Cummings or Dr Warner are ‘on’ or members of Sage.

” Mr Cummings and Dr Warner have actually gone to some Sage meetings and listen to some meetings now they are all virtual.

” They do this in order to comprehend much better the scientific arguments worrying this emergency situation and likewise to comprehend much better the limitations of how science and information can assist federal government choices.

” Sometimes they ask concerns or deal assistance when researchers discuss issues in Whitehall.”

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The federal government has never ever launched a list of Sage members or guests, however specific members can reveal they are part of the group.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the present chief scientific consultant who chairs Sage, stated in a letter to parliament previously this month that the decision not to reveal its membership was based on suggestions from the Centre for the Security of National Facilities (CPNI).

He stated that it assisted secure the individual security of members while safeguarding them from “lobbying and other forms of unwanted influence which may hinder their ability to give impartial advice”.

Teacher Chris Whitty, the primary medical officer for England and a member of Sage, informed MPs on Friday that neither he nor Sir Patrick had any objection “in principle” to information of the membership being launched.

He informed the Commons Science and Technology Committee the CPNI suggestions was based on the truth that SAGE was a sub-committee of Cobra – the federal government’s civil contingencies committee – and often handled security-related problems.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth stated the disclosure that Mr Cummings had actually been going to SAGE raised “significant questions” about the trustworthiness of federal government decision- making.

He stated: “Dominic Cummings has no location on the federal government’s scientific advisory group on the coronavirus.

” He is a political consultant, not a medical or scientific professional. If the public are to have self-confidence in the Sage, the federal government should make clear Dominic Cummings can no longer participate in or get involved.”

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Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey stated the disclosure highlighted the need for a public query into the federal government’s handling of the pandemic.

He stated: “The public requires to have self-confidence that it is skilled suggestions that is assisting federal government choices, not suspicious political advisors. The absence of openness is an outright outrage.

” To get to the truth and to offer Boris Johnson the chance to address some major concerns, it is clear that there will need to be an independent query to formally review the federal government’s reaction to the pandemic.”

Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet medical journal, tweeted: “If it is true that Dominic Cummings went to meetings of Sage, then the federal government led by Boris Johnson has entirely damaged independent scientific suggestions.”

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