Whitty and Vallance should have spoken out over Cummings, claims top scientist

PUBLISHED: 12:03 25 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:46 26 June 2020

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance,  Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty during a media briefing in Downing Street. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

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Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty during a media briefing in Downing Street. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire .

One of Britain’s leading scientists has said that Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance should have spoken out over Dominic Cummings’ breaking of the coronavirus lockdown rules.

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Sir Paul Nurse, a Nobel Prize winning geneticist, said that England’s chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser “should have said something” about Boris Johnson’s senior aide.

He told ITV’s Peston: ”I think it would have been proper for the scientists to point out that Dominic didn’t behave in the best way, maybe he did or maybe he didn’t break the rules, but he certainly damaged, dented the reputation of the government, certainly damaged the attempt to keep everybody behaving. They probably should have said something.”

The pair were said to have refused to do the press conference immediately after Cummings’ Rose Garden statement to journalists, because they would not back his account of events.

In subsequent press briefings Boris Johnson prevented both experts from commenting on the situation “to protect them” from a “political argument”.

Nurse also criticised claims from the government that it was “following the science”.


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“I think what’s really important and perhaps not fully recognised is how tentative knowledge is about a virus when it suddenly appears on the scene. And what that means is that the science is not always going to be right.

“So this phrase, ‘We’re all going to follow the science,’ is just too naive really, you’ve got to dig underneath that, because there will be different opinions, different views, it will evolve as our knowledge gets more and more secure, which is how science works.”

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