Government fails in bid to distance Dominic Cummings from sex discrimination case
PM’s most senior aide could be personally liable for any damages awarded at employment tribunal
Government lawyers have tried unsuccessfully to remove Dominic Cummings’ name from a sex discrimination claim brought by Sajid Javid’s former special adviser.
The demand that Cummings be removed was rejected after barristers for Sonia Khan, Javid’s ex-media adviser, “successfully argued that the behaviour of Boris Johnson’s chief aide was pivotal to the case”, The Guardian reports.
The failed intervention “will be seen as an attempt by the government to protect Cummings from further controversy”, says the newspaper. Public anger over the prime minister’s decision not to sack Cummings for breaching lockdown rules has already seen more than 1.1 million people signing a petition calling for the aide to get the boot.
Cummings’ inclusion as a respondent in the employment tribunal case means he could be made personally liable for part of any damages award. Whitehall sources told The Guardian that he plans to fight the claim, after the government’s solicitors failed to get his name replaced as a respondent with that of the Cabinet Office.
Despite Downing Street’s efforts, the PM’s closest aide is “expected to give evidence” in the case, which also includes an unfair dismissal claim, Daily Mail reports.
Cummings fired Khan last August and had her escorted out of No. 10 by armed police, in what The Sunday Times’ political editor Tim Shipman described as a “mafia-style hit”.
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The sacking came after Cummings discovered that Khan was still in contact with her old boss, Philip Hammond, and his former aide Poppy Trowbridge, both of whom had publicly opposed a no-deal Brexit.
Whitehall sources told Shipman that Cummings had behaved like a “thug”, and predicted an inquiry into whether he had followed the correct procedures.
The PM’s right-hand man is reported to have demanded that Khan hand over her phone, before stripping her of her security pass and summoning the police.
Khan’s dismissal also triggered a row between Javid and Johnson, with the then chancellor only learning of his adviser’s sacking after the event.
Responding to the latest reports about the tribunal case, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on ongoing legal matters.”