Dominic Cummings, former aide to Boris Johnson, took to Twitter to reveal what he claimed is the real reason behind one of lockdown’s most controversial exceptions.
When the government introduced introduced its ‘rule of six’ Coronavirus measure on 14 September 2020, there were notable exceptions. One of the most controversial was “licensed outdoor physical activity”, which was seen at the time as a get-out clause for hunting and shooting. And on 11 May 2022, Cummings appeared to confirm just that.
Responding to a thread public barrister Adam Wagner about the ‘Partygate’ scandal, Cummings said that by June 2020 prime minister Johnson regretted bringing in the first lockdown. And the tweet highlighted Johnson’s concern over the shut down of the grouse shooting industry, alleging the PM said “we gotta exempt grouse shooting or the mps will go crackers”.
Cummings then tweeted that during a conference call, Johnson was forced to ‘fold’ to the grouse shooting lobby:
“i was driving on a sunday, switch, pm wants conference call, u & covid taskforce... argh getting loads of incoming on grouse shooting, argh chief says it's bad we're gonna have to fold on this one yeah i know it sounds crazy…”
Wagner replied, describing this as “private lobbying”.
Cummings didn’t provide evidence of his claims. However, the Huffington Post reported on 14 September 2020 that a special meeting chaired by Michael Gove took place just two days before with a single agenda item: “Exemption: hunting and shooting”.
The former aide’s statements will come as little to surprise to those opposing bloodsports. A number of large hunt-related gatherings were captured in the days and weeks after the rule of six came into effect.
The Independent reported that “About 130 people” gathered for a meeting of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds less than a week later. And the next day it reported that West Kent Hunt Saboteurs captured video of police “mixing” with more than 15 people from the East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt in the same time frame.
Neither incident resulted in penalties.
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