Patrick Vallance had no intention of Covid notes ‘seeing gentle of day’

  • Sir Patrick Vallance, No10’s former prime scientist, saved a diary throughout pandemic
  • He mentioned he had ‘no intention’ of his notes ‘ever seeing the sunshine of day’

Sir Patrick Vallance right this moment mentioned it was ‘utterly improper’ that ministers hid behind their insistence that they have been merely ‘following the science’ throughout Covid.

Addressing the Covid Inquiry, No10’s ex-chief scientific adviser argued there’s ‘no such factor because the science’ as a result of it’s ‘a shifting physique of information’. Policymakers ‘hid behind this at occasions’, he argued.

The ‘following the science’ time period, wheeled out at Downing Street press briefings on the top of the pandemic and used to justify lockdown restrictions, was taken to imply that the Government was ‘slavishly’ following recommendation, Sir Patrick mentioned. 

Sir Patrick, who headed up SAGE earlier than standing down from £185,000-a-year function, mentioned: ‘The repeated assertion undermined the significance of ministerial judgement, and the accountability of ministers for selections.’

He mentioned he welcomed the mantra initially as a result of it confirmed that ministers have been ‘listening to us’ and ‘that is not at all times the case in Government’, including: ‘But I feel the best way wherein this was heard and presumably meant, by way of slavishly following the science, obeying it always, it is utterly improper.’

Sir Patrick said: 'I had no intention whatsoever of these ever seeing the light of day or me looking at them again and sort of felt the world had probably had enough of books of reflections of people's thoughts during Covid'

Sir Patrick mentioned: ‘I had no intention in any way of those ever seeing the sunshine of day or me them once more and form of felt the world had most likely had sufficient of books of reflections of individuals’s ideas throughout Covid’

‘And I may also completely agree that there isn’t any such factor as “the science”. 

‘Science by its definition is a shifting physique of information that tries to overturn issues by testing the entire time.’

Earlier within the day, Sir Patrick claimed he had ‘no intention’ for his notes taken on the time ‘ever seeing the sunshine of day’.

He mentioned the diary he saved in the course of the pandemic — described as ‘a mind dump’ — was written ‘on the finish of immensely anxious days to guard his psychological well being’.

Explosive extracts have been shared as a part of the inquiry, together with revelations that ex-PM Boris Johnson as soon as described coronavirus as ‘nature’s manner of coping with outdated individuals’.

Asked about his memoirs, shared solely with the Inquiry, Sir Patrick mentioned: ‘I had no intention in any way of those ever seeing the sunshine of day or me them once more and form of felt the world had most likely had sufficient of books of reflections of individuals’s ideas throughout Covid.’

Sir Patrick kept a diary during the pandemic, which has been described as 'a brain dump' written 'at the end of immensely stressful days to protect his mental health'

Sir Patrick saved a diary in the course of the pandemic, which has been described as ‘a mind dump’ written ‘on the finish of immensely anxious days to guard his psychological well being’

Giving proof at Dorland House in London on Monday, Sir Patrick admitted the diary was a manner of defending his personal psychological well being from the day by day stresses of his job.

He mentioned: ‘At the top of every day, typically fairly late within the night, I might simply spend a couple of minutes jotting down some ideas from that day, and issues and reflections, and did it as a solution to get that, in a way, out of the best way in order that I may consider the next day.

‘These have been non-public ideas. They have been on the spot reflections from a day. And as soon as they have been written, I truly by no means checked out them once more.

‘They have been put in a drawer and that was that. I definitely had no intention of doing anything with them both.’

Sir Patrick mentioned: ‘From my perspective, these have been a manner of simply decompressing on the finish of the day and so they have been some ideas I’d had that day and wrote down that day so as to be clearer the next day that I used to be going to focus on the next day. They had no goal apart from that.

‘And no one, together with members of my household or anybody, had seen them.’

He added: ‘Some of it I look again and assume “that looks like a sensible series of reflections over that period”.

‘Others, I look again and I can see I may need written one thing in the future after which two days later written one thing that mentioned “actually I don’t agree with myself on that”, which could have been how any person had behaved or any person made an statement.’

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock is amongst those that have provided their account of the pandemic. His guide, Pandemic Diaries: The inside story of Britain’s battle towards Covid, was printed final December.

Spike: The Virus v the People, written by Sir Jeremy Farrar, an influential member of SAGE, and journalist Anjana Ahuja, provided his ‘inside story’ on how the disaster unfolded and criticised the UK’s dealing with of the pandemic.

Extracts from Sir Patrick’s diary have been used in the course of the inquiry to take a look at the work of key figures, together with Cabinet ministers, ex-Downing Street director of communications Lee Cain and former cupboard secretary Mark Sedwill.

One entry recorded that the previous PM had referred to the Treasury because the ‘pro-death squad’ when he wished the division to again him in arguing for a path to eased restrictions.

Sir Patrick, who served because the Government’s chief scientific adviser from 2018 to 2023, additionally wrote about his frustrations in coping with the then-prime minister.

‘(Mr Johnson is) obsessive about older individuals accepting their destiny and letting the younger get on with life and the financial system going,’ he mentioned.

‘Quite bonkers set of exchanges,’ he wrote, referring to a WhatsApp group together with Mr Johnson.

Sir Patrick additionally mentioned that he and Sir Chris felt Number 10 officers have been attempting to ‘strong-arm’ them into showing by Mr Johnson’s aspect at a Downing Street press convention following the then-prime minister’s ex-chief adviser Dominic Cummings’ press convention on his lockdown journey to Barnard Castle.

Former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance arrives at Dorland House in London this morning to give a statement to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry

Former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance arrives at Dorland House in London this morning to offer a press release to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry

The journey was clearly towards the principles and Mr Cummings’ televised look earlier than the media was a ‘automotive crash’, the previous chief scientist mentioned in an entry in May 2020.

Sir Patrick has objected to the publication of his pandemic-era diary in full.

Inquiry chairwoman Baroness Heather Hallett has but to decide on whether or not the entries needs to be disclosed of their entirety.

Sir Patrick has at all times maintained it was not his job to inform Mr Johnson and the Cabinet what they wished to listen to, however to clarify the scientific proof.

In October 2021, he instructed the BBC: ‘My job is to not sugarcoat it. My job is to not inform them issues they need to hear… it is to guarantee that they perceive what the science at that second is saying, what the uncertainties are, and to attempt to make that as clear as attainable.’

England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty will give proof to the inquiry on Tuesday and his former deputy, Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, on Wednesday. 

They shall be adopted by the Government’s present chief scientific adviser, Dame Angela McLean on Wednesday, whereas Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Dame Jenny Harries, who’s head of the UK Health Security Agency, will give proof on Thursday.

Sir Patrick Vallance diary extracts

JUNE 10, 2020

‘I’m nervous {that a} ‘Sage is hassle’ vibe is showing in Number 10. It might even be the Government chosen now and again from Sage what it wished.

‘There is a paper from Number 10 cupboard workplace for the one metre two/metre evaluate. Some particular person has utterly rewritten the science recommendation as if it is the definitive model.

‘They’ve simply cherry picked. Quite extraordinary.’

JUNE 2020

‘No 10. Chaos as common. On Friday the two-metre rule assembly made it abundantly clear that nobody in No 10 or the Cabinet Office actually learn or is taking time to know the science recommendation on two metres. Quite extraordinary.’ 

NOVEMBER 11, 2020

‘He [Simon Case] says Number 10 is at battle with itself. Carrie faction with Gove and one other with spads downstairs. The PM is caught within the center. He, the cupboard secretary, has spoken to all his predecessors … and nobody has seen something prefer it.’ 


‘This flip-flopping is inconceivable. One minute do extra, subsequent do nothing.

‘He does not appear to push precise resolutions. Morning PM assembly, he needs all the things regular by September, and then you definitely take care of issues domestically and regionally.

‘He’s now utterly bullish on opening all the things. As one other particular person mentioned, it is so inconsistent. It’s like bipolar decision-making.’ 

JULY 2020

‘The ridiculous flip-flopping is getting worse.’

‘The CMO (Sir Chris Whitty) and I are each nervous in regards to the excessive inconsistency from the Prime Minister, lurching from open all the things to panic.’

SEPTEMBER 19, 2020

‘He’s [Boris Johnson] in every single place [about circuit-breaker lockdown] and utterly inconsistent. 

‘You can see why it was so troublesome to comply with lockdown the primary time.’