Dominic Cummings has 'network of spies' to stop special advisers leaking to journalists
Dominic Cummings has established a "network of spies" to watch special advisers suspected of passing over information to journalists, it has been claimed.
The Prime Minister's top adviser has launched a major crackdown on government leaks as he warned aides caught accepting free lunches from journalists could face disciplinary action.
It comes after Mr Cummings announced to Number 10 staff on Friday that he expected them to pay their own bills when meeting with the media.
"The people's government doesn't take any favours," he declared. "No coffees, no lunches, no drinks. Especially not with journalists."
According to the Sunday Times, the controversial aide has gone as far as contacting restaurants around Westminster to ask staff to report back to him if they spot any government advisers dining with journalists.
One source told the paper that Mr Cummings had been putting the plan together for several weeks, adding: "Anyone who is seen having lunch and not declaring it will be facing disciplinary proceedings.
"Dom has already talked to most of the restaurants in the area. He knows a lot of them. He's got a network of spies who will report back if our people are in there with their media mates. I'm deadly serious."
Mr Cummings has already faced criticism for his treatment of senior government staff after he was accused of having armed police escort Sonia Khan, an adviser to Chancellor Sajid Javid, from Downing Street last year.
Ms Khan was accused of having close links to former aides working for ex-Chancellor Philip Hammond, and was sacked by Mr Cummings without the approval of Mr Javid.
Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday claims that Mr Cummings' efforts to plug government leaks has extended to cabinet ministers, with one reportedly being secretly tracked by Number 10 to establish whether they were behind leaks to the press.
The paper claims anger over leaks spilled over last week after the press were briefed that Mr Javid was in favour of the controversial HS2 high-speed rail project, despite fierce opposition from Mr Cummings and other senior Number 10 aides.
"This is not coming from us. I think it's pretty clear where it's coming from," one source told the paper.
"All I would say is that this sort of thing became commonplace under Theresa May. But this is not a government led by Theresa May, and we have the authority and the majority to ensure this sort of thing does not go on any longer."