One of the strangest things about our recent national madness has been the role of Professor Neil Ferguson, the physicist who has somehow come to dominate Johnson’s Covid policy.
Physicist? Yes, that is his main academic discipline. He doesn’t even have a Biology O-level, as he himself cheerfully admits. But that’s no odder than his repeated record of wild predictions of vast numbers of deaths, for a variety of diseases from foot-and-mouth to mad cow, which can kindly be described as exaggerated.
And then there’s his complicated private life, which resulted in a pretty clear breach of the miserable restrictions he had helped to impose on the rest of us. As with all such cases, I don’t blame him for breaking the stupid rules. I despise him as a hypocrite for supporting them and then thinking they didn’t apply to him.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said at the time that it was ‘just not possible’ for Ferguson to continue advising the Government. But this was not true. The professor was said to have resigned from the SAGE advisory committee. But did he? Not really. A current State website lists him as a member of the ‘New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group’ (NERVTAG). Minutes suggest he was only ever away from that for a few weeks. But this is small potatoes, set beside an amazing admission by Ferguson in a recent interview with the semi-official newspaper The Times. Here, Ferguson spoke of SAGE’s growing admiration for China’s tyrannical attempts to contain Covid.