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Covid investigation: the questions that will be asked to cabinet secretary Simon Case | Covid investigation

Covid investigation: the questions that will be asked to cabinet secretary Simon Case |  Covid investigation


The Covid inquiry makes a brief return on Thursday to how Westminster and Whitehall responded to the pandemic, as cabinet secretary Simon Case gives evidence months late due to illness.

The case was due to come before the inquiry in the autumn, when a series of other senior officials appeared, as did politicians who played a leading role during the pandemic period, including the Prime Minister minister at the time, Boris Johnson. But Case, the UK's most senior civil servant, had to take sick leave and his testimony was postponed.

This case featured prominently in previous testimony, and there will be no shortage of questions to ask:

Does he believe Johnson's number 10 was venomous and crazy?

Most of what we've heard so far from Case is in WhatsApp messages, some of which have shown a colorful turn of phrase and very genuine skepticism of the Johnson administration even before before he becomes cabinet secretary.

Perhaps the most scathing words came during a July 2020 exchange with Mark Sedwill, from whom Case took over as cabinet secretary two months later.

I have never seen a group of people less well equipped to lead a country, Case wrote to Sedwill.

Having joined the No.10 team in May 2020, Case added: At this rate, I will struggle to last six months. These people are so angry. Not venomous towards me (yet), but they are just incredibly self-defeating.

Were people hesitant to join Johnsons No 10?

Another notable extract from the Case-Sedwill exchanges was Case's complaint that it was difficult to recruit new people for Number 10 due to the perception of chaos and infighting.

Case told Sedwill that Johnson asked him who would replace Tom Shinner, another senior civil servant working within No 10 on Covid, adding: I was quite blunt in telling him that a lot of senior people I had interviewed had refused to come because of the toxic reputation of his operation.

Did Carrie Johnson, the Prime Minister's wife, exert undue influence?

When asked what the policy was, Case replied: Whatever Carrie cares about, I guess. He added: I was always told that Dom [Dominic Cummings] was the secret prime minister. How wrong they are. I can't wait to tell some members [committee] tomorrow Oh, hell no, don't worry about Dom, the real one is Carrie.

Were the people of Number 10 essentially savages?

Another round of exchanges between Case and Sedwill showed both men again lamenting the culture of Downing Street.

It's like taming wild animals, wrote Case, who was Number 10's chief civil servant at the time. Nothing in my past experience prepared me for this madness. The Prime Minister and the people he chooses to surround himself with are fundamentally savage.

Sedwill replied: I have the bite marks.




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