For someone who claims to have researched pandemics and become a self -proclaimed expert, Dominic Cummings as right-hand man and senior advisor to the Prime Minister has made a bit of a mess of this one.
In a less reported but significant article, Cummings is facing questions about his claim in Monday’s press conference that last year, he wrote about the “possible threat of coronaviruses” after it emerged that a blogpost published in March 2019 was rewritten last month (April 14th after return to London from Durham) to insert a reference to “Sars coronavirus”.
The post, published to his personal blog on 4 March 2019 year, is primarily a lengthy excerpt from research published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warning about the risks of viruses escaping secure laboratories. ** It is a lazy piece of writing filled with extracts from the work of others.
In April 2020, the excerpt was edited to add a quote about a “well-publicised incident in China in which ‘two researchers conducting virus research were exposed to severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) coronavirus samples that were incompletely inactivated. The researchers subsequently transmitted Sars to others, leading to several infections and one death in 2004.’”.The article is the only mention of the word “coronavirus” on Cummings’ personal blog.
**Cumming’s blogpost may well have fed into some of the original conspiracy theories at the start of the pandemic, that coronavirus was accidently released from a laboratory in Wuhan, China specialising in bat coronaviruses.
Update 30th May – Cummings and Johnson evil geniuses ? Hardly, just lazy and incompetent ! Damning article on same subject.
In another Guardian article, Anna Cafolla makes a powerful argument that Cummings surely knew that he was exploiting a rule meant for abuse victims .Click for full article.
In cobbling together this narrative during yesterday’s lengthy press conference, the prime minister’s senior adviser seemed to rely on a loophole in the government’s quarantine laws. After the guidelines were imposed in March to counteract the Covid-19 outbreak, a clause was subsequently added to provide protective measures for women and children stuck in domestic abuse households: the lockdown could be broken in these exceptional circumstances, where vulnerable people were in danger. Cummings, the chief strategist in the government that devised this rule, surely knew that safeguarding women and children from abuse and neglect was the intention.
In exploiting this loophole in the rules, Cummings casually placed his predicament alongside the lived reality for women who suffer domestic violence. For them, the days aren’t punctuated by 12th-century castle trips or jaunts through their parents’ bluebell woods; it is terror in a tower block or emotional abuse over a dinner table, fearing for your life as you put your kids to bed.
When reading Cummings personal blog above, one is immediately struck by the difference in his writing style compared with the clear and concise statement that he made in the Downing Street rose garden last Monday. His normal writing style seems to be rambling and verbose rather than the “lawyered” writing style of Mondays’s forensic “witness” statement. It is a masterclass in how legal phrasing can be used to obfuscate.
If you have 25 minutes to spare, the Financial Time’s David Allen Green analysis of Cumming’s statement is fascinating. Click here to listen.