Simon Case's Covid Inquiry appearance date confirmed

Cab sec's appearance at the inquiry was postponed as he was on medical leave from late October
Photo: Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire

Simon Case will give evidence to the Covid Inquiry on 23 May, it has been confirmed.

The cabinet secretary had been expected to appear before the inquiry during the series of Module 2 hearings examining political decision-making on Covid that took place between October and December. However, his appearance was postponed as Case was on medical leave from late October.

The cab sec returned to work early this year.

Case is expected to share evidence on the early response to Covid, having been drafted in to government in May 2020 as No.10 permanent secretary to coordinate the response. He was then appointed cabinet secretary in September that year.

During the inquiry, several WhatsApp and email messages from Case have been published that suggest the official was frustrated with the way ministers were handling the pandemic response.

In October 2020, when ministers were planning to introduce regional Covid restrictions, he told then-political adviser Dominic Cummings that the government looked like a “terrible, tragic joke” and did not have “credibility” with the public because of its flip-flopping on the rules.

He also alleged that Johnson’s wife Carrie was the “real person in charge” at No.10.

During his May appearance, Case may also be quizzed on evidence presented by former political adviser Dominic Cummings that he did not want the cab sec position.

In a written statement – which also said then-prime minister Boris Johnson’s behaviour in 2021 and 2022 made the cab sec’s job “impossible” – Cummings wrote: "Neither Case nor I initially intended him to be cabinet secretary. He did not want the job, suggested I sound out others which I did, and resisted taking the job.”

WhatsApp records appear to corroborate Cummings' account. In a message to then-cab sec Mark Sedwill in May 2020, Case – who had previously been a Downing Street PPS before moving to a position in the royal household – said he was “v v cautious about walking back into” government.

He said his return to the civil service depended on there being “some guarantees about behaviour”.

Case is likely to face questions on the behaviours he was referring to. At a November hearing, Lord Sedwill said the exchange “came after a point where there had been very severe friction between me and the prime minister and his immediate team”.

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