Cummings ignores the rules again

It’s emerged Dominic Cummings tried to fast track a £530,000 grant to an external data team at the start of the pandemic by bypassing normal Whitehall procedures.

Leaked emails show Boris Johnson’s former top adviser urged civil servants to issue the payment with “no procurement, no lawyers, no meetings, no delay.”

The government department involved, the Department for Health and Social Care has insisted that due diligence had been followed in issuing the grant, but Labour claim it is yet another example of No.10’s “disdain” for the rules governing the use of taxpayers’ money under Mr Johnson’s leadership.

Mr Cummings’ intervention, in March 2020, came to light following a Freedom of Information request from Our World in Data, a research project run by a not-for-profit organisation and Oxford academics, which said it needed funding to retain staff required to collate data on the pandemic.

The request was said to have been passed to Health Secretary Matt Hancock who emailed Matthew Gould the head of the unit responsible for the digital transformation of the NHS saying he supported the grant.

Mr Gould then received an email from Mr Cummings stating:
“Someone please ensure that they have the 530k within 24 hours from now and report back to me it’s been sent. No procurement, no lawyers, no meetings, no delay please – just send immediately.”

Mr Gould expressed his concern, saying his team could meet the request through the DHSC and “have the money in place by tomorrow”, but it would mean “waiving the normal grant-giving process”.

Mr Cummings has been contacted for comment but so far has not responded.

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