- Coronavirus pandemic
image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionDominic Cummings gave evidence to a select committee three weeks ago
Dominic Cummings has published expletive-laden messages apparently from Boris Johnson, in which the PM brands the health secretary "hopeless".
It is the latest salvo in a bitter war of words between Mr Cummings and Matt Hancock over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The PM's former aide accuses Mr Hancock of trying to rewrite history at a select committee session last week.
And he claims Mr Hancock and the PM had "repeatedly lied about failures".
"If No 10 is prepared to lie so deeply and widely about such vital issues of life and death last year, it cannot be trusted now either on Covid or any other crucial issue of war and peace," writes Mr Cummings.
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Mr Hancock denied lying to the prime minister about the testing of hospital patients discharged to care homes at the start of the pandemic in a four hour rebuttal of Mr Cummings's testimony to the committee.
Mr Cummings has now hit back with a 7,000 word blog post, in which he says Mr Hancock's version of events is "fiction".
It includes screenshots of WhatsApp messages, which appear to show an exchange between Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings on 27 March last year.
Mr Cummings highlights the ramping up of testing capacity in the US and criticises Mr Hancock for saying he was "sceptical" about meeting a target.
Mr Johnson purportedly responds: "Totally [expletive] hopeless."
Mr Cummings also published another private message about the struggle to procure ventilators for Covid-19 patients.
"It's Hancock. He has been hopeless," a contact appearing to be Mr Johnson replies on 27 March last year.
In another message, on 27 April last year, the prime minister appears to call the situation around personal protective equipment (PPE) "a disaster" and alludes to diverting some responsibilities to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.
"I can't think of anything except taking Hancock off and putting Gove on," Mr Johnson apparently adds.
Downing Street has yet to respond to the allegations.
Care home staff
At his appearance last week before the joint health and social care and science committee, Mr Hancock said he had seen no evidence to suggest any medical staff had died because of a lack of PPE.
In his blog, Mr Cummings accuses the health secretary of trying to blame NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Cabinet Office for last April's "PPE disaster".
"The lack of PPE killed NHS and care home staff in March-May," he writes.
He claims Number 10 and Mr Hancock, had "repeatedly lied about the failures last year" and accuses them of now trying to "rewrite history".
"The PM is trying to influence officials/advisers to support the re-writing of history and is encouraging ministers to give false accounts to Parliament," he writes.
image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionMatt Hancock was quizzed by MPs last week
Mr Cummings, who was forced out of his role as chief aide to the prime minister at the end of last year, also claims a promised public inquiry into the Covid crisis would not fix the problems.
"It will not start for years and it is designed to punt the tricky parts until after this PM has gone – unlike other PMs, this one has a clear plan to leave at the latest a couple of years after the next election, he wants to make money and have fun not 'go on and on'," writes Mr Cummings.
But with the Conservatives riding high in the opinion polls, there is no incentive for the party's MPs to move against Mr Johnson, despite the "systemic incompetence" surrounding him, he adds.
Labour's shadow health minister Justin Madders said: "This is more evidence that the Conservatives were too slow to lockdown, too slow to deliver PPE and too slow to protect our care homes.
"With this evidence that even the PM thinks Hancock is useless, why in the worst pandemic in our history has he left him in charge?"
But Conservative business minister Paul Scully dismissed the leaked messages as "little grenades" that were only of importance to the "Westminster bubble" and suggested they may have been the prime minister "letting off steam".
Asked on the BBC's Politics Live if he thought Mr Hancock was "hopeless", he said: "Absolutely not."
Mr Cummings published the alleged leaks on Substack, an online platform that allows people to charge for newsletters.
He has said he plans to charge subscribers for insider information on subjects other than the pandemic.