Who is Henry Newman? Carrie’s friend who Dominic Cummings accused of being a ‘chatty rat’

Barney Davis
·4-min read
<p>Henry Newman has been accused by Cummings of leaking lockdown plans</p> (BBC)

Henry Newman has been accused by Cummings of leaking lockdown plans

(BBC)

In a sensational blog post Dominic Cummings has accused a close friend of Carrie Symonds of leaking information about the UK’s second lockdown to the media.

Boris Johnson’s former top advisor claimed Mr Newman was the “chatty rat” who caused the PM to rush forward the official announcement.

Mr Cummings said Mr Johnson was reluctant for an investigation to take place because of Mr Newman’s close friendship with his fiancée.

He we take a closer look at Mr Newman and his role in Government.

Who is Henry Newman?

Before becoming a special adviser to Number 10 Henry Newman was the director of the think tank Open Europe before it closed in 2020.

It specialised in UK and EU Relations and had offices in Brussels and London claiming to be a “non-partisan and independent” policy think tank.

He regularly appeared on BBC and Sky News to review the latest Brexit developments.

Mr Newman has also worked in the Ministry of Justice under Michael Gove and Francis Maude in the Cabinet Office.

Earlier in his career, he taught politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas), after studying at the University of Oxford, Harvard University, and the London School of Economics.

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He has previously been pictured with Carrie Symonds holding her and Mr Johnson’s dog Dilyn and wearing a ‘Get Brexit Done’ beanie.

In the past, Carrie has tagged him in a group photograph of Tory canvassers on Twitter, writing he was one of her “four favourite people”.

What is he accused of?

In an explosive blog post, Cummings claimed to have WhatsApp messages exonerating himself from being the leak, claiming it was Newman.

He wrote: “The Cabinet Secretary told the PM that the leak was neither me nor the then Director of Communications and that ‘all the evidence definitely leads to Henry Newman and others in that office, I’m just trying to get the communications data to prove it’.

“The PM was very upset about this. He said to me afterwards, ‘If Newman is confirmed as the leaker then I will have to fire him, and this will cause me very serious problems with Carrie as they’re best friends … [pause] perhaps we could get the Cabinet Secretary to stop the leak inquiry?”

What have others said about him before?

Toby Young wrote in a Spectator article that Newman was always on hand to defend Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreements on various media rounds.

Mr Young said: “In the past 12 months, he has become a virtual celebrity by being almost the only pundit in the western hemisphere willing to stick up for Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. If you were a booker who had to find someone to appear opposite Steve Baker or Nicholas Boles, Newman was the only name in your Rolodex.

“As the oxygen went out of Theresa May’s premiership, and her withdrawal agreement began to breathe its last, the great balloon of his career became more and more inflated. He is my new role model.”

Is he actually the “chatty rat”?

Nothing has been proven against him. On Cummings claim a leak inquiry suggested Newman was behind the autumn lockdown leak, a senior government source told Sky News:

“The allegations against Henry Newman are entirely false. He wouldn’t be working in Downing Street if he was suspected of leaking information.”

At the same time, Downing Street was also forced to deny that the Prime Minister moved to shut down the leak inquiry as Cummings suggested.

However it is not the first time Newman has been the target of a whispering campaign.

In November, allegations circulated to at least four newspapers said that he tried to cover his tracks by partially wiping his phone.

What does Newman think of Cummings?

Ironically in 2019, Newman wrote of his admiration for Cummings.

He said: “Cummings is one of only a few political advisers who understands the importance of, and is truly committed to, reforming the Whitehall machine.

“I worked with another, Simone (now Baroness) Finn, in the Cabinet Office between 2012 and 2015.

“As special advisers to Francis Maude (then the Minister for the Cabinet Office), Finn and I helped design and push forward a programme of Whitehall reform. It wasn’t about moving away from the Northcote–Trevelyan system of a non-political civil service, it was about making the machine work more effectively.

“At the time the big challenge was austerity – could you save money and yet provide better public services? Now the challenge is Brexit.”

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