Watchdog gives Dominic Cummings dressing down after consultancy application

It follows criticism for Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser for failing to notify the panel of a paid-for blog about his time in No 10.

Dominic Cummings has applied to take on paid work since leaving Downing Street at the end of 2020
Dominic Cummings has applied to take on paid work since leaving Downing Street at the end of 2020

Dominic Cummings has once again received a dressing down for failing to comply with Whitehall protocol in his bid to build a career following his exit from No 10.

The former Downing Street adviser was accused in July of breaking rules on senior officials taking paid work after leaving government.

And now the post-government appointments watchdog has refused to provide Mr Cummings’ with the advice he requires before taking up new consultancy work after accusing him of refusing to engage with its initial criticism.

Lord Pickles, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), said in July that Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser failed to notify the panel of a paid-for blog he launched on the Substack website.

The watchdog is supposed to vet any appointment taken by ministers or senior officials within two years of leaving office for possible conflicts of interest.

The issue over Mr Cummings’ post-No 10 career has reared its head again after he, according to a letter from Acoba, applied via the Cabinet Office for permission to take up a consultancy position although who the work is for has been redacted.

Acoba has refused to provide advice on Mr Cummings’ latest application, citing how he had not yet replied to its earlier admonishment for setting up his blog, which subscribers pay £10 per month to read details about his time working with the Prime Minister.

In a letter to the Cabinet Office, committee secretariat Cat Marshall, said: “The Cabinet Office has submitted Mr Cummings’ completed application for advice to work with (redacted).

“The committee understands this work is consulting, to be carried out under a consultancy offering services which overlap with those Mr Cummings is already advertising online without first receiving the benefit of the committee’s advice.

“This failure to seek and await the committee’s advice was a breach of the rules reported to the Cabinet Office in July.

“Mr Cummings has not provided the committee with a response to its correspondence in respect of the breach of the rules.”

She added: “This application to consult for (redacted) relates directly to his previous breach of the rules and as a consequence the committee refuses to provide advice on this occasion.”

Since launching his blog earlier this year, Mr Cummings has used it to mount a series of withering attacks on Mr Johnson and his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It followed his acrimonious departure from No 10 last November after an internal power struggle with the Prime Minister’s then fiancee Carrie Symonds who has since married Mr Johnson.

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