Boris Johnson press briefing followed by suspiciously-timed civil service tweet

A press conference in which UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his key adviser for flouting lockdown rules was suspiciously followed by a brazen tweet, shared by none other than the civil service.

"Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?" read the tweet, which was posted to the official account of the UK civil service on Sunday evening (local time). 

The tweet did not elaborate, but given it was shared soon after Johnson's press conference - during which he defended chief aide Dominic Cummings for breaching lockdown protocol - the tweet spread like wildfire.

The rogue tweet that delighted Twitter users.
The rogue tweet that delighted Twitter users. Photo credit: UK Civil Service / Twitter

The message was shared tens of thousands of times by ecstatic Twitter users before it was removed from the account.

A government spokesperson confirmed the tweet was "unauthorised" and is currently under investigation. 

During the press briefing, Johnson dismissed criticism aimed at Cummings, who drove more than 418 kilometres from London to his parents' estate in Durham with his wife and child in March, after his spouse began showing symptoms of COVID-19. 

At the time of the breach, Johnson had ordered Britons to remain at home amid a stringent lockdown to curb the outbreak, which has resulted in the UK having one of the highest global death tolls due to the virus. 

Johnson claimed the senior adviser had acted in the interest of his family's safety.

"I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent," Johnson said, as reported by The Guardian. "And I do not mark him down for that.

"I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly, legally and with integrity, and with the overriding aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives."

Johnson has defended Cummings [right], his chief aide, for breaching the UK's lockdown protocol in March.
Johnson has defended Cummings [right], his chief aide, for breaching the UK's lockdown protocol in March. Photo credit: Getty

The Prime Minister said Cummings had "no alternative" as "he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus". In a statement, Johnson's office reiterated that the journey was made to ensure Cummings' four-year-old son could be properly cared for if both parents fell ill with the virus.

On Saturday, The Daily Mirror claimed the advisor had made a second trip during the lockdown after he was spotted near Durham on April 19, days after returning from his first visit. 

Johnson's Downing Street office described the reports as "false allegations".

Several lawmakers from Johnson's Conservative Party called for Cummings to resign on Sunday morning (local time).

There have been no further tweets from the civil service account since the rogue post made it into the Twittersphere.