Boris Johnson’s former chief aide Dominic Cummings’ promise to reveal all on his new Substack could break government rules and open him up to legal action

Dominic Cummings stands near police officers

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Boris Johnson’s former chief advisor Dominic Cummings appears to have broken rules requiring him to seek official advice before setting up a new paid-for Substack newsletter and offering his skills as a management consultant.

On Thursday, Dominic Cummings started a Substack newsletter, promising a mixture of free and paid content including details on his time in Downing Street. He says that “a lot of” his writing on coronavirus and some writing on his time in Downing Street will be free, while other more “recondite” – or concealed – content on Downing Street as well as commentary on the media, Westminster, and the 2019 general election will be for subscribers only.

Cummings is also offering his skills, as well as those of his network, to people hoping to win elections, improve their marketing, solve management problems, predict events, establish dashboards, and to hear him talk, saying that “fees slide from zero to lots depending on who you are / your project…”

However, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which considers applications under the Business Appointment Rules from the most senior civil servants and their special adviser equivalents, has confirmed to Insider that they have not had an application from Cummings.

ACOBA’s form for former civil servants and special advisers includes sections for those establishing an independent consultancy. The guidance says that “information about any specific commissions, including speculative commissions if available, will be helpful to the Committee in formulating its view of the consultancy and whether to recommend that any conditions should be applied to it.”

They would then provide advice on each commission taken up by the consultancy after it was established. By not going to ACOBA, Cummings will avoid them publishing whatever commissions he takes up through his consultancy.  

Their guidance also refers to individuals entering into a “longer-term arrangement” of speaking engagements, media appearances, and newspaper articles. These individuals, as opposed to those who might carry out an activity as a one-off, must also consult ACOBA prior to taking up the work.

Failing to consult ACOBA has few repercussions aside from the publication of a letter from ACOBA’s chair to the Cabinet Office and potentially making the chance of receiving an honour, such as a knighthood, or OBE, even lower than it already is.

A former senior government official told Insider: “It is little surprise that someone who’s reported to have said a ‘hard rain’ was going to fall on Whitehall is ignoring the requirements the rest of us have to follow. And it’s unlikely that much sleep will be lost at the prospect that a breach of the Business Appointment Rules could affect his chance of receiving an honour. 

“Still, given he told the select committee ‘there are all sorts of ways in which you could have greater transparency’, it’s strange he’s not starting with his own post-government roles.”

Cummings, who gave dramatic testimony in late May to a parliamentary inquiry into lessons learned from the government’s response to coronavirus, promised he would submit evidence to back up allegations he made. …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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