How the papers reacted to Dominic Cummings’ ‘damning testimony’

Revelations about the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, as recalled by aide Dominic Cummings, feature on the front of many Thursday papers.

His marathon seven-hour session of evidence to MPs gave the press plenty to write about, some calling it a “rain of fire”, others a “Domshell”.

They included suggestions Government failings lead to tens of thousands of people dying unnecessarily, through to Mr Cummings saying he did not think Mr Johnson was up to the job of Prime Minister.

The Times carries a sketch from Quentin Letts on its front page in which he refers to the session as “longer and bloodier than Hamlet”.

He writes: “Mark Sedwill, the former cabinet secretary, took a pyroclastic boulder smack in the face.

“The Department of Health was left smoking like Ground Zero. Carrie Symonds was ‘crackers’ and ‘desperate to get rid of me’.

“Even Dilyn the dog came up in dispatches and may well now have to give evidence to the official Covid inquiry. Only in England could a major health dingdong include a cameo for a Jack Russell. Barking.”

The Independent, i and Daily Mirror all use the same quote headline: “Tens of thousands died who didn’t need to die”, with the latter carrying a leader column headlined “damning testimony”.

The paper points out the problem of only hearing one side of the story, but that the Government “failed in this fundamental duty”.

It says: “Cummings’ evidence may have been onesided and selective but it should not be ignored. His criticisms of the Government’s handling of Covid demand an explanation.

“The coward Johnson is trying to hide from accountability by delaying the public inquiry into Covid until next spring. We need to learn lessons now, not at his convenience.”

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The Daily Telegraph takes a different angle, suggesting an element of revenge from Mr Cummings with associate editor Camilla Tominey writing “having expended his nine lives in government, this was also about settling scores”.

The Sun’s headline – “Do you need a hindsight test, Mr Cummings?” – pokes fun at his well-publicised trip to Barnard Castle during the pandemic, while its leader column claims Mr Johnson will “dodge Dom’s bombs”.

It adds people “recognise that our Government was one of many whose Covid response was found wanting.

“The key difference since being the stellar success of our world-leading vaccine rollout.

“Voters are more likely to credit the Government with that and our rosier future than rake over the terrible bleakness of 2020 and the chaos in Downing Street.”