'Truth twisters': rogue civil service tweet causes storm


It was a sentiment perhaps shared by at least some people who had watched Boris Johnson’s press conference, but not necessarily what you might expect from the official account of the civil service.

“Arrogant and offensive,” read the tweet from the @UKCivilService Twitter account, which has just over 250,000 followers. “Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?”

The tweet elaborated no further, but given that it was sent soon after Johnson had finished a sometimes extraordinary press briefing at which he had vigorously defended his under-fire chief aide, Dominic Cummings, the implication was fairly clear.

A delighted Twitter shared the message tens of thousands of times before it was deleted, leaving the civil service account to its usual, more sober stream of messages about ways for businesses to cope with lockdown and other practical issues.

A government spokesman said: “An unauthorised tweet was posted on a government channel this evening. The post has been removed and we are investigating the matter.”

At the press conference, Johnson had dismissed criticism of Cummings’ decision to drive more than 260 miles to his parents’ estate in Durham with his wife and young son after his wife became ill, saying Cummings had been trying to keep his family safe.

“I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent,” Johnson said. “And I do not mark him down for that.” The prime minister added: “I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly, legally and with integrity, and with the overriding aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives.”

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