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How JK Rowling got involved in the row over Dominic Cummings

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Anna Brech
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JK Rowling couldn’t resist hailing the rogue Civil Service tweeter who hit out at the government’s handling of the Dominic Cummings row this weekend.

Whether it’s challenging the Brexiteer viewpoint or weighing in on arguments over immigration, JK Rowling is not the kind of woman to hold back on owning her opinions.

And so when a row broke out this weekend over whether Boris Johnson’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings breached lockdown rules by travelling from London to Durham with his family, the Harry Potter author was right at the heart of the Twitter action.

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Those on Twitter reacted with anger after Johnson defended his aide in a live press conference last night , saying that Cummings had acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity” in apparently flouting the lockdown while suffering from coronavirus symptoms.

The furore prompted one rogue tweeter from the UK Civil Service – a government organisation that normally sticks to matters of policy only – to hit out at Johnson’s “arrogant and offensive” handling of the matter.

The extraordinary attack was swiftly deleted from the Civil Service’s account, but not before it had been picked up and shared thousands of times by gleeful commentators on Twitter.

The Cabinet Office later confirmed it was investigating the incident, saying, “An unauthorised tweet was posted on a government channel this evening. The post has been removed and we are investigating the matter.”

The incident was golden bait as far as many people on Twitter were concerned, including Rowling, who joked that she wanted to reward whoever the culprit of the original tweet was with a full year’s salary.

Rowling’s followers delighted in her quip, and many hailed the moment with their own celebratory gifs.

Rowling herself then re-tweeted someone else who joked that whoever wrote the rogue tweet was only “acting on instinct”; a reference to the fact that Johnson said Cummings “acted on the instinct of every father and parent” in travelling 260 miles north to Durham during the lockdown period.

Cummings is currently facing scrutiny from the media and politicians over where and why he travelled during a period of strict lockdown enforced by the government he works for.

Both he and his wife were developing coronavirus symptoms at the time of their trip, despite official advice that anyone suffering signs of the illness should isolate at home as far as possible.

Questions are being raised about why he appeared to break the rules to visit his wider family when millions of others made significant sacrifices to avoid during exactly that.

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The advisor has spent this afternoon answering questions from journalists about the reason for his trip to his parents’ home in Durham and the nearby town of Barnard Castle in March and April this year.

It’s not known who sent yesterday’s rogue tweet from the Civil Service’s account, although some have speculated that it was a disillusioned intern or social media assistant who has since been relieved of their position.

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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