LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street for a Cabinet Meeting at the FCO with political advisor Munira Mirza (L), on December 15, 2020 in London, England. Ministers may review the Christmas coronavirus guidelines that allow three households to meet inside for a five-day period, after a spike in cases across London and the South East that sees the area moving into Tier 3 from 00:01 Wednesday. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Top civil servant Simon Case said the government’s behaviour during the Covid-19 pandemic was “basically feral”.
In a Whatsapp conversation used as evidence at the Covid Inquiry, Case slammed the “madness” of government at the time and said dealing with them was “like taming wild animals”.
“Nothing in my past experience has prepared me for this madness. The PM and the people he chooses to surround himself with are basically feral,” read the message.
In response, former top civil servant Lord Mark Sedwill replied: “I have the bite marks.”
Whatsapp messaged between Simon Case and Mark Sedwill, describing the government as 'feral'
Another WhatsApp exchange shown to the inquiry saw a message from Case that read: “I’ve never seen a bunch of people less well equipped to run the country.”
In a diary entry written by former chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance in August 2020, it was noted that Sedwill had called the government “brutal and useless” and “totally incompetent”.
The former cabinet secretary said he could not remember making those remarks, but did not refute them either.
“I can’t actually recall what might have prompted it but... I don’t doubt Sir Patrick’s memory.
“It must have been a moment of acute frustration with something,” added Sedwill.
A message from Lord Sedwill said the former health secretary should be sacked to “save lives and protect the NHS”.
Giving evidence to the inquiry, Sedwill said he had repeatedly raised questions with Boris Johnson about Hancock’s ability in his role. He added that widespread concerns about Hancock’s honesty were “clearly damaging”.
Sedwill claimed he had never explicitly called on the prime minister to sack the health secretary, but added that Johnson “would have been under no illusions as to my view about what was best”.
He said: “I had raised my concerns with the prime minister. That was not intended for him to remove Mr Hancock but to take a grip on the issue.”