Dominic Cummings: Disaster expert picks apart ex-senior aide’s claim – ‘Absolutely untrue’

Dominic Cummings statement 'difficult' for government says Rigby

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During a seven-hour-long committee hearing on Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s former senior aide discussed the Government’s COVID-19 preparations from early 2020. Mr Cummings said: “There’s not even a plan to bury all the bodies.”

He added: “The Cabinet Office is terrifyingly s***, no plans, totally behind the pace.”

However, Prof Lucy Easthope, an adviser to the Government on disasters, blasted Mr Cummings’ comment on the lack of plans for burying dead bodies as “absolutely untrue”.

Speaking about Mr Cummings’ allegations, Prof Easthope told BBC Newsnight: “There were some fundamental things that weren’t our experience.

“One of which was there was a classic mistake, which is I think used by outsiders to disaster management, which was a lot of comments were made that plans didn’t exist.

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“Plans did exist and what we’ve been able to do at local level was innovate those.

“The other thing that was a sort of common problem that flowed from that was this assumption that at the very highest level we were in severe trouble and I think we felt that in emergency response and planning but we also knew we did have plans and tested processes that we could use.”

Prof Easthope, from the University of Durham, said an example of this was when Mr Cummings wrongly said there was no plan for burying bodies.

She added: “That was absolutely untrue. The plan was originally owned by the Home Office, it’s a Home Office work stream.

“The Department of Health had an initial flurry or concern that they didn’t have a plan and then we were able to point out to them that they did it just had a different logo on it.”

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Prof Easthope explained that Mr Cummings did something during his testimony “that I think is very common to us as planners”.

She added: “He assumed that because he didn’t have them on his desk, local plans didn’t exist when in fact we knew they did.

“I think that’s really important because I think the public should take some assurance from that, that the same way your bins are being emptied there are emergency planners working behind the scenes all the time.”

During the hearing, Mr Cummings also described the Health Secretary Matt Hancock as “completely incapable of doing the job” and said he “should have been fired” for lying.

Mr Hancock is set to appear in the House of Commons on Thursday to answer questions over the Government’s handling of the pandemic.

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