According to Dominic Cummings, Ms Symonds was “enraged” by the Times’ “completely trivial” story last March about their dog, Dilyn. The story claimed that Ms Symonds and the Prime Minister were considering relocating the dog due to his poor health.
According to the Daily Mail, the letter written by Ms Symonds accused The Times of violating the publishers’ code of conduct in clauses 1 (accuracy), 2 (confidentiality), 3 (harassment) and 6 (children).
The draft letter, which was signed in both names, said it was “totally wrong to suggest that he is chronically ill” and added that “Dilyn is and always will be a much loved member of our family “.
The letter claimed that the article contained a number of “very inaccurate damaging allegations about our home and privacy” and that it was “extremely upsetting and hurtful”.
He details that the couple had received “abuse” from the public who had been “misled into believing that we were going to ruthlessly repatriate our beloved family dog.” He ends by saying that the couple have no choice but to “pursue the matter formally with IPSO”.
Mr Cummings, a former chief adviser to the Prime Minister, told House of Commons health and social services and science and technology committees on Wednesday that the story contributed to chaotic scenes in Downing Street as the government was struggling to respond to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Cummings said the Prime Minister was distracted by the story when he told him there would be “big problems ahead” if self-isolation measures were not announced immediately, putting warning against “100,000 to 500,000 deaths”.
Mr Cummings said: “It sounds so surreal it couldn’t be true… that day the Times had a huge story about the Prime Minister, his girlfriend and their dog.
“The Prime Minister’s girlfriend was going completely crazy about this story and demanded that the press service take care of it. “
The then report stated that Dilyn had turned out to be a “sick animal” and quoted a Whitehall source predicting: “I’m not sure this dog will come out of it on the next shuffle. “
However, sources told the Mail Mr Cummings stepped in and told Mr Johnson it was a waste of time.