Ex-civil servant Helen MacNamara slams Dominic Cummings over 'violent and ... trends now
The ex-civil servant branded a 'c***' by Dominic Cummings in furious WhatsApps messages today swiped at his 'violent and misogynistic language'.
Giving evidence to the Covid inquiry, former deputy Cabinet Secretary Helen MacNamara painted a grim picture of the 'macho' culture in Downing Street at the start of the pandemic.
Asked about a message where Mr Cummings referred to her as 'that c***' and said he would 'personally handcuff her and escort her out of the building', Ms MacNamara said she was 'surprised and not surprised' by the content.
'It wasn't a pleasant place to work,' she said. The ex-mandarin also swiped at Boris Johnson for not intervening in the 'toxic culture' even though he was in the same WhatsApp group, saying it was 'miles away from what is proper or decent'.
Mr Cummings flatly denied being misogynistic yesterday, pointing out he was equally rude about male staff and ministers.
Ms MacNamara complained about a 'superhero bunfight' with everyone thinking they had been parachuted in to the heart of power to 'save the day'. 'Everything was contaminated by ego,' she said.
The former mandarin raised concerns that by April 2020 there 'weren't any women talking' in meetings and junior female staff were being 'talked over.
On the WhatsApp messages from Mr Cummings, she said: 'It's horrible to read, but it is both surprising and not surprising to me, and I don't know which is worse, actually.
'I think that he was frustrated with me at the time, I would absolutely own that.
'I would also say all I was doing was actually working in the service of the then prime minister and defending his interests.'
She suggested Mr Cummings was 'cross' about her resistance to David Frost's appointment as national security adviser and her insistence Mr Cummings told the truth in an employment tribunal about a sacked special adviser.
Referring to Mr Johnson. Ms MacNamara said: 'The way in which it was considered appropriate to describe what should happen to me, yes, as a woman, but, yes, as a civil servant, it is disappointing to me that the prime minister didn't pick him up on the use of some of that violent and misogynistic language.'
In other dramatic
Giving evidence to the Covid inquiry today, former deputy Cabinet Secretary Helen MacNamara complained that her efforts to 'inject caution' about the risks from the virus were pushed aside
WhatsApp messages shared with the inquiry yesterday revealed that Mr Cummings had labelled Ms MacNamara 'that c***' and said he would 'handcuff her and escort her' from Downing Street
In her witness statement to the Covid inquiry, Ms MacNamara said by January 2020 there was a 'low-trust environment' between officials and Boris Johnson's team in the wake of Brexit wrangling
WhatsApp messages shared with the inquiry yesterday revealed that Mr Cummings had labelled Ms MacNamara 'that c***' and said he would 'handcuff her and escort her' from Downing Street.
'I don't care how it's done but that woman must be out of our hair – we cannot keep dealing with this horrific meltdown of the British state while dodging stilettos from that c***,' he wrote.
Ms MacNamara, who took up a senior role at the Premier League following her civil service exit before leaving after less than two years, played a key role in the Covid response as one of the country's most senior officials.
The inquiry has heard that she authored a report in the early period of the pandemic on the culture at the top of Government, finding that female staff were being 'talked over and ignored' and 'bad behaviours' were being tolerated from senior leaders.
Ms MacNamara also made headlines for providing a karaoke machine for a lockdown event in Downing Street.
She was subsequently fined by the Metropolitan Police for her part in the leaving do and issued an apology for her 'error of judgment'.
Ms MacNamara said her efforts to 'inject caution' about the risks from the virus were pushed aside in the early stages.
She said by January 2020 there was a 'low-trust environment' between officials and Boris Johnson's team in the wake of Brexit wrangling.
And Ms MacNamara swiped that when it came to Covid the tone of regular morning meetings she attended in No10 was 'confident and macho'.
She said in Cabinet Mr Johnson 'was very confident that the UK would sail through and we should all be careful of over-correcting in advance of something that was unlikely to have a huge impact and for which – in any case – we were well prepared'.
Ms MacNamara said there had been a 'jovial tone' in Downing Street meetings and that 'sitting there and saying it was great and sort of laughing at the Italians was just … it felt how it sounds'.
'I would say that undoubtedly the sort of unbelievably bullish, we're going to be great at everything approach is not a smart mentality to have inside a government meeting,' she said.
She said the 'macho' and 'confident' attitude was 'not a new thing, but it