EX-CABINET Secretary Lord Sedwill has apologised for suggesting holding chickenpox-style parties at the start of the pandemic.
The ex-national security adviser told the Covid inquiry the remark was “heartless” claiming he wanted to develop herd immunity.
But the Peer came under pressure after claiming the comments should never have been made public but were revealed by former Number 10 aide Dominic Cummings.
Grovelling to the inquiry, he said: “These were private exchanges and I certainly had not expected for this to become public.
“I understand how, in particular the interpretation that has been put on it, it must have come across as someone in my role was both heartless and thoughtless about this and I genuinely am neither.
“But I do understand the distress that must have caused and I apologise for that.”
Sedwill gave evidence outlining how he told Boris Johnson to sack Matt Hancock to “save lives and protect the NHS” over his lies, the Covid inquiry heard.
The ex-Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill would have left Boris Johnson “under no illusions” about ditching the Health Secretary.
He even sent Simon Case, then permanent secretary at Number 10, a joke WhatsApp message saying his removal would “save lives and protect the NHS”.
Sedwill told the inquiry the remark was a play on the pandemic-era slogan and was an example of “gallows humour”.
He said: “I had raised my concerns with the Prime Minister. That was not intended for him to remove Mr Hancock but to take a grip on the issue.”
He added that he did not use the word “sack” with the then Prime Minister but did in a WhatsApp exchange with Mr Case.
Sedwill was also quizzed about ‘lying’ Hancock during his evidence.
Hugo Keith KC, counsel for the inquiry, asked the Peer: “The process by which Hancock’s truthfulness, or candour, or lack of candour or general approach, was not confined to one or two individuals?”
Sedwill replied: “Yes.”
The former mandarin also described aides working for Johnson as “feral”.
He said: “It is like taming wild animals. Nothing in my past experience has prepared me for this madness. The PM and the people he chooses to surround himself with are basically feral.” Sedwill replied: “I have the bite marks.”