Who is Dominic Cummings? Profile of PM's aide as he makes coronavirus statement


Tonight's statement will be the climax so far of a long Westminster career for Dominic Cummings - whose time in power has been dogged by outrage and scandal.

Privately educated in Durham, he graduated from Oxford University in 1994 and briefly moved to Russia, before moving back to the UK to campaign against joining the Euro.

In 2007 he started working for Michael Gove - where as special advisor he was branded a "career psychopath" by David Cameron.

He and Mr Gove took on teachers and unions, which Mr Cummings branded "the blob".

And the pair were accused of trying to use private email addresses to avoid disclosing communications under the Freedom of Information Act.

Dominic Cummings leaves his home this morning (Image: REUTERS)

Mr Cummings' breakout from backroom advisor to front page news began after he was appointed director of Vote Leave when it was founded in 2015.

He was considered the "mastermind" of the 2016 EU referendum campaign, coming up with slogans such as "Take Back Control", and strategies such as the NHS Brexit bus.

Benedict Cumberbatch played him in a TV portrayal of Vote Leave - which was marred by rows over misleading figures and fronted by Boris Johnson and Mr Gove.

But he had angry fallings-out with some Tory Leavers, who disapproved of his methods and feared he risked losing the vote.

(Image: PA)
Dominic Cummings pictured in his younger years (Image: Getty Images Europe)

He branded Brexiteers in the European Research Group "useful idiots", called top Tory David Davis "thick as mince", claimed some MPs spent the referendum "chasing girls" and other Brexiteer economists were "charlatans".

Vote Leave was later fined £61,000 for electoral offences during the referendum. There is no suggestion Mr Cummings was personally responsible.

The former Vote Leave chief repeatedly refused to answer MPs' questions. In 2019 he was found to be in contempt of Parliament for refusing to give evidence to a committee of MPs investigating "fake news".

He was played by Benedict Cumberbatch in a TV drama (Image: Nick Wall. Channel 4 images must not be altered or manipulated in any way. This picture may be used solely for Channel 4 program)

Mr Cummings retreated from the public eye until his explosive return last summer, when he joined new Prime Minister Boris Johnson's team in No10.

His dishevelled frame, often wearing loose-fitting casual clothes, became a regular sight outside the black front door.

But Mr Cummings wielded an iron fist, and was often accused of straying beyond the usual brief of back room special advisors.

Sonia Khan, an aide to then-Chancellor Sajid Javid, was marched out of Downing Street by armed police after being sacked on the spot by Mr Cummings.

She is thought to have launched an unfair dismissal claim, and an HR manager for Spads was later hired to ensure the Code of Conduct is followed.

In January he posted a bizarre 2,900-word job advert for "weirdos and misfits" on his own personal blog - which had become well-known in SW1 for lengthy diatribes on the issues of the day.

He said applicants would have no time for a boyfriend or girlfriend, adding: "I’ll bin you within weeks if you don’t fit - don’t complain later because I made it clear now.”

One of his hires, Andrew Sabisky, 27, resigned within weeks after it emerged he had made controversial past comments.

The researcher had compared women’s sport to the paralympics, dismissed concerns over female genital mutilation and described a series of female politicians as “dim”. He defended his comments but blamed a media storm for his departure.

Mr Cummings repeatedly cast himself as a voice of real Brits outside the elite of Westminster - claiming "rich Remainers" were trying to stop Brexit happening.

Critics, however, pointed to his own wealth and his friends in the upper echelons of the Tory party.

He and his wife Mary Wakefield - whose father, Sir Humphrey, owned 'Britain's most haunted castle' Chillingham Castle in Northumberland - bought their Islington townhouse for £1.65m in 2013 and later applied to extend it.

The luxurious home features a separate 'Tapestry Room', 'Reading Room' and 'Formal Living Room'.

But he did not let the apparent contradiction get in the way of his contempt for the press - who he characterised as anti-Brexit.

He told the press outside his home over the weekend: "Who cares about good looks?

"It's a question of doing the right thing. It's not about what you guys think."