Boris Johnson accused of ‘trashing’ scientific advice to defend Dominic Cummings

Jon Sharman

Boris Johnson has “trashed” all the advice he was given on building public trust during the coronavirus lockdown in order to defend Dominic Cummings, a government adviser has complained.

Professor Stephen Reicher said the prime minister’s four-square backing of his top aide proved the government “doesn’t want to listen to advice”, in a series of angry tweets following Sunday night’s coronavirus briefing.

Number 10 is facing calls to launch an inquiry into claims Mr Cummings broke the government’s own lockdown rules by leaving his home and travelling to the north east earlier this year. Conservative MPs have told The Independent they are “livid” with the PM’s actions.

Prof Reicher is on the Independent Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) that feeds analysis and advice to the scientists on the government’s emergency panel.

On Sunday evening he tweeted: ”I can say that in a few short minutes tonight, Boris Johnson has trashed all the advice we have given on how to build trust and secure adherence to the measures necessary to control Covid-19.”

In a second tweet, he added: “Be open and honest, we said. Trashed. Respect the public, we said. Trashed Ensure equity, so everyone is treated the same, we said. Trashed. Be consistent we said. Trashed. Make clear ‘we are all in it together’. Trashed.”

The scientist said: “It is very hard to provide scientific advice to a government which doesn’t want to listen to science. I hope, however, that the public will read our papers and continue to make up for this bad government with their own good sense.”

Robert West, professor of health psychology at University College London, said: “I am sorry to have to say that as another member of SPI-B I have to agree.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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