‘The prime minister’s chief political adviser, Dominic Cummings, and a data scientist he worked with on the Vote Leave campaign for Brexit are on the secret scientific group advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic, according to a list leaked to the Guardian.
It reveals that both Cummings and Ben Warner were among 23 attendees present at a crucial convening of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on 23 March, the day Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown in a televised address.
Multiple attendees of Sage told the Guardian that both Cummings and Warner had been taking part in meetings of the group as far back as February. The inclusion of Downing Street advisers on Sage will raise questions about the independence of its scientific advice.
There has been growing pressure on Downing Street in recent days to disclose more details about the group, which provides scientific advice to the upper echelons of government during emergencies. Both the membership of Sage and its advice to ministers on the Covid-19 outbreak is being kept secret.
Warner, a data scientist, was reportedly recruited to Downing Street last year by Cummings after running the Conservative party’s general election campaign model. He is also said to have worked closely with Cummings on the data modelling used in the Vote Leave campaign for the UK to leave the European Union.’