Michael Gove’s controversial adviser Dominic Cummings has admitted sending an email in which he appears to smear a journalist as suffering from mental health problems.
In an email to Ian Mearns, a Labour member of the select committee which quizzed Gove on the behaviour of his SpAds yesterday, Cummings says he did not “circulate” the email to a number of journalists — but does admit an off-the-record negative briefing to Indy hack Richard Garner:
“you shd speak to [FT journalist] Chris Cook about a good therapist”
With a Twitter account linked to Cummings describing Chris Cook as a “Walter Mitty” character and “stalker”, Scrapbook is puzzled as to what alternative meaning of “therapist” one should infer.
It appears he thinks that it’s okay to smear people — provided it’s off the record. But the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers could not be clearer:
“The highest standards of conduct are expected of special advisers and, specifically, the preparation or dissemination of inappropriate material or personal attacks has no part to play in the job of being a special adviser as it has no part to play in the conduct of public life. Any special adviser ever found to be disseminating inappropriate material will automatically be dismissed by their appointing Minister”
Cummings is running out of friends in Whitehall. As Scrapbook exclusively revealed last month, Cameron advisers told senior political journalists that they would suffer no blowback from Number 10 if they scalped the Gove aide.
The education secretary refused to discuss the issue yesterday after one of Mearns’ Labour colleagues fluffed his question, referring to the email as “private”.
If you followed the Gove/Cummings “private email” logic then Damian McBride might still work in politics.