Following Boris Johnson’s defence of Dominic Cummings at the Downing Street coronavirus briefing, the official UK Civil Service Twitter feed sent out the message: “Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?”
The tweet was removed within about 10 minutes of first appearing on the micro-blogging website, but not before it had been shared by around 25,000 users and liked by almost 40,000.
And Harry Potter author JK Rowling offered to donate a year’s salary to whoever was responsible.
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It was not immediately apparent how the message got onto the Twitter feed, which has a blue tick to indicate it is verified, and features on the civil service website.
But a government spokesman confirmed that the message was “unauthorised” and said an investigation had been launched.
Responding to the announcement of an investigation, Rowling posted on Twitter: “When you find out who it was, let us know. I want to give them a year’s salary.” And footballer and BBC pundit Gary Lineker highlighted the fact that no similar investigation was being launched into Mr Cummings’ apparent breach of lockdown rules.
The message did not name any individuals, but was posted just minutes after Mr Johnson’s appearance at the daily press conference, at which he said it was “totally understandable” that his aide should have driven 260 miles across the country to a house near his parents’ home with his wife, who had coronavirus, and their child.
At the time of Mr Cummings’s move from London to Durham, the government’s clear instruction to all UK residents was to “stay home” and to those suffering from the infection to remain in self-isolation for seven days without leaving the premises where they were staying.
The PM dodged a number of questions about Mr Cummings’s movements as he claimed that the former Vote Leave supremo’s “sole objective” in making his journey had been to “avoid such contact as would spread the virus”.
A UK government spokesperson said: “An unauthorised tweet was posted on a government channel this evening. The post has been removed and we are investigating the matter.”
In response, Lineker tweeted: “An unauthorised journey was taken by a government adviser. The advisor will not be removed and we are not investigating the matter.”
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