Dominic Cummings is still a director of an info tech company, Chris Grayling a joke in theatre land and Gina Miller’s grace under pressure.
In what might well suggest he regards his job working for Boris Johnson as a short-term commitment, Dominic Cummings hasn’t relinquished his old business interests.
Mandrake can reveal that Cummings, remains the sole director and shareholder of two limited companies – Dynamic MAPS and Klute. Dynamic MAPS, set up in 2017, describes itself as an “information technology consultancy”. Its first accounts, just published, reveal a healthy £78,751 profit. Cummings’ other firm, set up in 2010, has been dormant since registration.
Eyebrows are likely to be raised that Cummings, who earns around £150,000 working for Johnson, hasn’t severed all his business ties, but it’s a moot point as to whether he’s breaking any rules laid down in the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers and the Civil Service Code.
The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments tell me that the official guidelines are vague. “Special advisers are civil servants and interests held by them should be declared to their departments to see if there is a conflict of interests,” says its spokesman.
He added that they must adhere to the seven principles of public life, as set out by Lord Nolan, which stipulate that holders of public office must act with “selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership”.
A Machiavellian thought, by the way, but, given the image that Cummings has created for Johnson, is it just possible his loyalties still lie with his extremely close friend Michael Gove? He worked as the current chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster’s spad from 2007 to 2014.
As Boris Johnson is being shrieked at by an angry populace every time he dares to venture out of his Downing Street bunker, his foot soldiers are being greeted with ribald laughter.
Among Chris Grayling’s long litany of disgraceful acts in office, he turned down, as justice secretary, Marina Litvinenko’s request for a public inquiry into the death of her husband Alexander from radiation poisoning and also didn’t see why she should have legal aid.
The mere mention of Grayling’s name at Friday night’s performance of Lucy Prebble’s play A Very Expensive Poison had the punters laughing uproariously.
For political balance, I should add that Simon Woods’ play Hansard is also getting laughs at the National Theatre at Jeremy Corbyn’s expense. A Tory MP says in it: “We look at the opposition leaders across the dispatch box and can’t believe our luck… we see a succession of badly-dressed geography teachers…”
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s book The Victorians – “bad, boring and mind-bogglingly banal,” according to the Times – is now being retailed for £13.78, £1 up on the week before.
The increase was apparently a result of the notoriety Rees-Mogg gained for lounging on the Commons benches during a debate, which resulted in jibes that he was showing contempt to his fellow MPs.
Rees-Mogg has still not managed to sell more than 3,450 copies since May, which means it’s hardly been a money-spinner. He makes just 10% on each book sold. What a shame that because of the ministerial code, he no longer has his £15,000-a-month job at Somerset Capital Management to fall back on.
It was no surprise that the High Court would want the Supreme Court to rule on Gina Miller’s case that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament is unlawful. Only the highest court in the land could reasonably take a view on the executive’s attempt to grab power from the people.
Still, Mandrake is pleased to have been there in court four to enjoy the sheer theatre of it all and to see Lord Pannick – the greatest advocate of his generation – in action. As ever, Miller, was a model of grace under pressure. The hero on the press benches, meanwhile, was Sam Tobin of the Press Association, who made a successful request to the judges to put into the public domain the handwritten notes from Johnson that showed he was plotting weeks in advance to shut down parliament.
I might add I’d appeared myself before Dame Victoria Sharp, one of the judges who heard the case. In 2009, Petra Ecclestone, Bernie’s daughter, became the only person ever to sue me for libel. Sharp threw out the case before it went to trial. It’s a small world.