An unknown culprit used the official Twitter account of the UK Civil Service to hammer Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The PM was defending his adviser, Dominic Cummings, who’s been reported to police for breaking lockdown rules.
Cummings has been hounded by the British press and urged to resign since it emerged on Friday that he’d traveled 250 miles from London to his parents’ farm in Durham in April. His journey flouted the national coronavirus lockdown, and took place while he was supposed to be isolating at home due to his wife’s Covid-19 symptoms.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his embattled adviser on Sunday, saying that Cummings acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity.” As Johnson spoke, a strange tweet was posted by the UK Civil Service – an institution that prides itself on its political neutrality.
“Arrogant and offensive,” it read. “Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?”
The tweet was up for all of 12 minutes before it was abruptly deleted. During that time though, it was widely screenshotted and reproduced online – racking up tens of thousands of likes and retweets.
Half an hour later, the Cabinet Office chimed in to declare it an “unauthorised tweet” that would be investigated.
The origins of the tweet are still unknown. A disgruntled civil servant could have reached the end of his or her tether with Johnson’s defense of Cummings. The service’s social media staffer could have signed into the wrong account. And, because this is the age we live in, somebody will surely suggest the tweet to be the work of ‘Russian hackers.’
It was hardly the last twist in the Cummings saga, though. Whereas Johnson seemed content to excuse his adviser’s lockdown-violating jaunt, commenters online clamored for his resignation. And, within hours, the Mirror wrote that Cummings had been reported to the police for his journey.