Revealed: The letter Carrie Symonds wanted to send to The Times objecting to story about Dilyn the dog – but Boris blocked it after saying: ‘I can’t sign this – it’s nonsense’

  • Complaint letter that Carrie Symonds wanted to send to The Times about story on Dilyn the dog has emerged 
  • The draft letter was leaked to the Mail after Dominic Cummings gave bombshell evidence to MP committee
  • Boris Johnson eventually refused to send the complaint about the story on the basis that it was ‘a nonsense’ 
  • Ms Symonds’ reaction to the story allegedly distracted Mr Jonson’s from the response to the Covid crisis

Boris Johnson refused to back fiancee Carrie Symonds’ complaint to The Times after it claimed the couple wanted to get rid of their pet dog Dilyn.

He objected on the basis that the proposed complaint, drawn up at the start of the Covid crisis, was ‘a nonsense’.

A copy of the draft letter was leaked to the Daily Mail’s Simon Walters after Dominic Cummings told MPs on Wednesday that Ms Symonds went ‘completely crackers’ over a report claiming the couple hated Dilyn.

Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser Mr Cummings said Ms Symonds’ reaction had diverted the Prime Minister’s attention at a crucial stage ahead of the first lockdown. 

He was also dealing with a demand by Donald Trump for Britain to back bombing raids in the Middle East.

The leaked letter shows Ms Symonds wanted Mr Johnson to support her formal protest that Jack Russell cross Dilyn was not ‘chronically ill’ and there were no plans to ‘callously rehome’ him. 

Boris Johnson refused to back fiancee Carrie Symonds ‘ complaint to The Times after it claimed the couple wanted to get rid of their pet dog Dilyn 

He objected on the basis that the proposed complaint, drawn up at the start of the Covid crisis, was ‘a nonsense’. A copy of the draft letter was leaked to the Daily Mail after Dominic Cummings told MPs on Wednesday that Ms Symonds went ‘completely crackers’ over a report claiming the couple hated Dilyn 

Matt Hancock is facing fresh pressure today amid claims Dominic Cummings has documents showing the PM feared he had been ‘misled’ over Covid testing for care homes at the height of the pandemic. 

The Health Secretary has been desperately trying to fend off allegations from Dominic Cummings that he ‘lied’ to Boris Johnson in March last year about whether residents would be screened on leaving hospital. 

After days of dodging, Mr Hancock finally addressed the issue directly last night, insisting his ‘recollection’ was he had only promised to ‘build testing capacity’ so that the checks could be carried out. 

But there are reports today that Mr Cummings has a document from May last year indicating alarm in Downing Street that Mr Hancock’s ‘negligence’ had ‘killed people in care homes’. 

No10 officials asked for information from the Department of Health to understand what had gone wrong, according to ITV News. 

The latest claims will heap further pressure on Mr Hancock, despite the PM trying to shore him up overnight by issuing a statement saying he had ‘full confidence’ in his senior minister.    

The draft letter, in both their names, was prepared after Ms Symonds was enraged by an article in The Times on March 11 last year. 

It was addressed to The Times and in it, the couple threatened to take their complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

The article said Dilyn could be put up for adoption because the couple were fed up with trying to house train the ‘sickly animal’.

Ms Symonds denounced the story as ‘total crap’ on social media. And when The Times refused to print an apology, she urged Mr Johnson to write to it.

But after reportedly telling Ms Symonds he would send the letter, Mr Johnson changed his mind after Mr Cummings intervened, according to well-placed sources.

‘The PM went along with it initially because Carrie was very cross,’ said an insider. ‘It was none of Dom’s business but he hated Carrie and went berserk. 

He told the PM it was a waste of time – and the PM agreed. He sympathised with Carrie’s feelings but said, ‘I can’t sign this – it’s a nonsense’.’

Mr Johnson’s decision to not complain came after Mr Cummings was told he could not attend a Covid meeting because he was dealing with the Dilyn row.

Eight months later, Mr Cummings was ousted from his No10 post when he lost a power struggle with Ms Symonds.

In his evidence on Wednesday, Mr Cummings said: ‘The Prime Minister’s girlfriend was going completely crackers about this story. Part of the building was saying ‘Are we going to bomb Iraq?’ 

‘Part of the building was arguing whether or not we’re going to do or not do quarantine. 

‘The Prime Minister has got his girlfriend going crackers about something completely trivial.’ 

He also accused Ms Symonds of intervening in a key No10 appointment in a way that was ‘not only completely unethical but also clearly illegal’.

According to a well-placed No10 source, there was another reason Mr Johnson did not complain about the report. ‘It was essentially true,’ said the source. 

The draft letter, in both their names, was prepared after Ms Symonds was enraged by an article in The Times on March 11 last year

Another Cummings ally leaves No10  

Another of Dominic Cummings’ allies is leaving Downing Street in the wake of the Vote Leave purge, it emerged today. 

Ben Warner, who worked on the Brexit campaign, has been one of the last aides left with strong connections to the former No10 chief. 

However, colleagues have been asked to sign a leaving card for the data guru by today, according to The Times.

Boris Johnson has looked to be clearing out the Vote Leave faction in the wake of the bitter power struggle that sparked Mr Cummings’ departure

But No10 sources insisted Mr Warner’s exit is amicable and has been planned for ‘months’.

Mr Warner helped run the Conservatives’ general election campaign in December 2019, and is reputed to have predicted the huge 80 majority to within one seat. 

‘At one stage there was talk of getting rid of Dilyn. Carrie loves the dog but Boris has never been a fan. It drove him round the bend.’

Downing Street declined to comment last night.

In an extraordinary seven-hour performance on Wednesday, Mr Cummings launched attacks on Mr Johnson, his fiancée Carrie Symonds and Mr Hancock over their personal conduct during the crisis. 

Mr Cummings claimed the Prime Minister was ‘unfit for the job’ and could not lead Britain out of the pandemic.

He said the Health Secretary ‘should have been fired for at least 15 to 20 things, including lying’. 

He alleged Mr Hancock had lied to the PM over the disastrous policy of not testing older people for Covid before they were discharged from hospital into care homes. 

The former No10 aide outlined a series of failings by him and the ‘smoking ruin’ Department for Health, including lying in January last year that pandemic preparations were brilliant when they were ‘completely hollow’.

Mr Cummings alleged Mr Hancock lied about testing hospital patients for coronavirus before they were sent back into care homes, in a suggestion that thousands died because of his dishonesty. 

He also claimed that the Health Secretary lied about people getting the treatment they needed during the first peak last March and April – adding that ‘many people were left to die in horrific circumstances’.

Mr Cummings then accused Mr Hancock of ‘appalling’ behaviour towards chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance, saying: ‘He used the whole ‘we’re following the science’ as a way so that he could always say, ‘well if things go wrong, we’ll blame the scientists and it’s not my fault’.’ 

Downing Street has not denied that Mr Johnson considered sacking the Health Secretary in April last year but insisted the Prime Minister has confidence in him now. Mr Hancock disputes the allegations.

Mr Cummings suggested that Mr Johnson chose not to fire the Health Secretary at that point because he was allegedly told ‘you should keep him there because he’s the person you fire when the inquiry comes along’.  

Mr Cummings told the joint health and science committee: ‘One thing I can say completely honestly is that I said repeatedly from February/March that if we don’t fire the Secretary of State and get testing into somebody else’s hands, we’re going to kill people and it’s going to be a catastrophe.’ 

On the claim that Mr Hancock lied, Mr Cummings said: ‘There are numerous examples. In the summer he said that everybody who needed treatment got the treatment they required. 

‘He knew that that was a lie because he had been briefed by the chief scientific adviser and the chief medical officer himself about the first peak. We were told explicitly people did not get the treatment they deserved, many people were left to die in horrific circumstances.’ 

A picture posted on Twitter by Mr Cummings shows a whiteboard in Downing Street in March last year, with a blue bell curve, seemingly representing Covid cases, skyrocketing well above a red line representing ‘NHS capacity’, predicting there would be ‘100,000+ people dying in corridors’ if no action was taken. Another graph, titled ‘Current plan’, shows a more spread out curve, which still exceeded the health service’s ability to cope, implying that the measures in place at that time were insufficient to stop the health service being overwhelmed. A third chart, named the ‘Actual plan’, shows the rate at which coronavirus spreads being suppressed, with the blue line annotated ‘lockdown to (lower) rate = delay’. Under a section titled ‘public health’ is written ‘3 weeks min – no non-essential movement’

Mr Johnson visiting Colchester hospital yesterday as the fallout from the Cummings appearance continued

Mr Hancock had also blamed NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens and Chancellor Rishi Sunak for PPE problems.

Mr Cummings said he asked the cabinet secretary to investigate, who came back and said ‘it is completely untrue, I have lost confidence in the Secretary of State’s honesty in these meetings’.

The former aide said Mr Hancock’s public promise to deliver 100,000 tests a day by the end of April was ‘incredibly stupid’ because it was already an internal goal.

‘In my opinion he should’ve been fired for that thing alone, and that itself meant the whole of April was hugely disrupted by different parts of Whitehall fundamentally trying to operate in different ways completely because Hancock wanted to be able to go on TV and say ‘look at me and my 100k target’.

‘It was criminal, disgraceful behaviour that caused serious harm.’ 

On a visit to Colchester hospital yesterday, Mr Johnson said the government faced an ‘incredibly difficult series of decisions, none of which we have taken lightly’ and ‘at every stage we have been governed by a determination to protect life’. 

Challenged whether the government’s failures had cost tens of thousands of lives as Mr Cummings claims, he said: ‘No I don’t think so. But, of course, this has been an incredibly difficult series of decisions, none of which we’ve taken lightly.’ 

He said the situation in care homes – where more than 40,000 deaths were linked to Covid – was ‘tragic’, but added: ‘We did everything we could to protect the NHS and to protect care homes as well.’

He said: ‘I think it’s important for us to focus on what really matters to the people of this country.

‘I think, if I may say so, that some of the commentary I have heard doesn’t bear any relation to reality.

‘What people want us to get on with is delivering the road map and trying – cautiously – to take our country forward through what has been one of the most difficult periods that I think anybody can remember.’ 

Summoned to answer an urgent question in the House yesterday morning, Mr Hancock said: ‘These unsubstantiated allegations around honesty are not true. 

‘I have been straight with people in public and in private throughout.’ 

Mr Hancock also dismissed Mr Cummings’ criticism of his testing target, saying it was ‘how you get stuff done in government’.

‘I am proud of everyone in my department,’ he said. 

In a brutal swipe at the ex-No10 chief, who was ousted from Downing Street in November, he said people can see that over the past six months ‘governing has become a little easier and we have been able to deliver’. 

Tory MPs rallied round Mr Hancock in the chamber, with William Wragg slamming the ‘irony’ of criticism from Mr Cummings, and Peter Bone dismissing him as an ‘unelected Spad who broke Covid regulations’. Mr Bone said the premier’s mistake was that he ‘didn’t fire Dominic Cummings early enough’.  

Red Wall MP Dehenna Davison also made her feelings clear as she asked a question by video link with a ‘Barnard Castle eye test’ chart in the background.   

Government sources have called the onslaught from Mr Cummings a ‘character assassination’ that was ‘not backed by evidence’.

Senior Tories told MailOnline that the former No10 chief was engaged in epic ‘score settling’ and had a ‘selective memory’. ‘He should really have words with whoever was in charge last year,’ one said wryly. 

The letter Boris and Carrie drafted to The Times

Dear Sir,

We write further to an article on 11 March 2020 entitled ‘Dilyn the Downing Street dog to be reshuffled’.

This article is based on a wholly false premise and contains a number of highly inaccurate claims published in spite of categorical on the record denials by Downing St.

To be absolutely clear, it is completely false to allege that Dilyn will be rehoused now or at any point in the future.

Furthermore, it is also totally untrue to suggest that he suffers from chronic ill-health.

Dilyn is and always will be a much-loved member of our family. He is a happy and healthy dog and making a claim to the contrary is entirely without foundation.

The article also makes a number of highly inaccurate damaging allegations about our home and private life.

These are not only false but a gross invasion of our privacy.

Despite our complaint, the paper has refused to publish a suitable apology and correction. 

The article is extremely upsetting and hurtful, particularly given our well-documented commitment to animal welfare. 

As a result of publication of the article we have received and continue to receive abuse from concerned members of the public misled into believing that we would callously rehome our much-loved family dog.

It is hugely disappointing that you have failed to take responsibility for the damage you have caused by publishing these untrue and unwarranted claims.

We have been offered the opportunity to have a letter published outlining our position. This is inadequate and unacceptable.

Despite our best efforts towards amicable resolution, we have no option but to pursue the matter formally with IPSO (the Independent Press Standards Organisation) for full and proper recourse.

The article is in breach of the Editor’s Code of Practice in terms of Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 3 (Harassment) and Clause 6 (Children).

We look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.

Yours Sincerely, 

Boris and Carrie

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