Boris Johnson’s chief adviser during the coronavirus pandemic, Dominic Cummings, has said he will give evidence to the UK COVID-19 Inquiry later this month.
Mr Cummings used his latest Substack post to reveal he had been going through his statement with inquiry lawyers, describing the process as “painful”.
“I finally sent it in on Thursday. I give evidence on 31/10,” he wrote.
Mr Cummings was Mr Johnson’s closest aide when the pandemic emerged, and the government was forced to defend him after he drove to County Durham beauty spot Barnard Castle during the first lockdown.
But he left Downing Street in November 2020 following infighting in No 10 and has since become a fierce critic of the former prime minister, suggesting he was indecisive in the response to coronavirus.
In his blog, Mr Cummings said he would eventually do a “post-evidence AMA (ask me anything)” on his and other people’s statements to the inquiry, but he had been asked not to write about it yet.
He also criticised the pace of the inquiry, which began this summer and has so far heard evidence from significant political figures, including former health secretary Matt Hancock and ex-prime minister David Cameron.
The first part of the inquiry looked at the UK’s resilience and preparedness for a pandemic.
The second part of the public inquiry – which focuses on “core decision making and political governance” – started at the beginning of this month and will also see Mr Johnson give evidence.
Scientific advisers have also given evidence, with Professor Stephen Riley telling the inquiry on Tuesday that there could have been fewer deaths if the UK went into the first lockdown two weeks earlier.
Meanwhile, Professor Neil Ferguson – whose COVID modelling was instrumental to the UK going into lockdown – denied stepping “over the line” and telling ministers they needed to shut down.
He said while he is “very much associated with a particular policy… the reality was a lot more complex”.
“I don’t think I stepped over that line to say: ‘We need to do this now’,” he said.
“What I tried to do was, at times – which was stepping outside the scientific advisory role – to try and focus people’s minds on what was going to happen and the consequences of current trends.”