Scientific advisers say Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings have ‘trashed’ their lockdown work

PUBLISHED: 20:43 24 May 2020 | UPDATED: 21:35 24 May 2020

Special Advisor to Britain's Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings, uses his phone as he returns back to 10 Downing Street. (TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Special Advisor to Britain's Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings, uses his phone as he returns back to 10 Downing Street. (TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

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A member of the government’s advisory group on behavioural science has said Boris Johnson has “trashed” all the advice he had been given on building the public trust need for lockdown to work.

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Professor Stephen Reicher is on the Independent Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) that feeds analysis and advice to the scientists on the Government’s emergency panel.

Speaking after Boris Johnson’s defence of Dominic Cummings at the latest Downing Street press conference, he wrote: “I can say that in a few short minutes tonight, Boris Johnson has trashed all the advice we have given on how to build trust and secure adherence to the measures necessary to control Covid-19.”

In a second tweet, Prof Reicher said: “Be open and honest, we said. Trashed.


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“Respect the public, we said. Trashed

“Ensure equity, so everyone is treated the same, we said. Trashed.

“Be consistent we said. Trashed.

“Make clear ‘we are all in it together’. Trashed.”

He added: “It is very hard to provide scientific advice to a government which doesn’t want to listen to science.

“I hope, however, that the public will read our papers and continue to make up for this bad government with their own good sense.”

Prof Reicher’s post had been retweeted more than 20,000 times in less than two hours, including by other scientists on SPI-B.

Robert West, professor of Health Psychology at University College London (UCL), agreed with the tweets.

He said: “I am sorry to have to say that as another member of SPI-B I have to agree.”

West’s colleague Susan Michie, director of the university’s Centre for Behaviour Change, said: “As another member of SPI-B, I completely agree.”

Earlier Prof Reicher, who is professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews, said: “It feels increasingly as if we are living through a Greek drama.

“The kingmaker Cummings’ fatal flaw of hubris brings down both him and the king… what makes it tragedy is that such incompetence and turmoil will bring the people down as well.”

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