I AM a civil servant and I am pissed off.

The final straw was seeing that unguarded smirk on Dominic Cummings’s face as he left the press conference on Monday.

Or maybe it was another smirk, on Michael Gove’s face yesterday as he realised, just seconds into another absurd lie, that not even his own semi-mythical capacity for shameless dishonesty could allow him to claim that he tests his eyesight by going on long drives with his family.

Enough. Can someone in the UK Government show some integrity and stop defending the indefensible? A junior minister has done so, to his credit. But there’s still no sign that any other minister will. This is a teachable moment – a turning point – for standards in public life.

What Cummings did – and the continuing defence of him – undermines the Civil Service Code, to which Special Advisers are subject too, and it undermines the rule of law. Under the heading “Integrity” in the code, you will find this line: “You must comply with the law and uphold the administration of justice.”

By his own admission, Cummings left his home and brought the virus to, among other places hundreds of miles away, a hospital. In violation of the basic purpose of the Health Protection Regulations – to prevent the virus spreading across the country.

If a junior civil servant in the Cabinet Office had done that, would they escape investigation? Would the Prime Minister say of them, “he acted to minimise the spread of the virus”? If that’s minimising it, what does maximising it look like?

Thousands of public servants across the UK have been working flat out for months in response to the pandemic. We are lucky, actually – we have secure jobs and that’s more than most can say right now. Most of us are not on the frontline either.

But we are the public too. We stayed at home too. We cared for and schooled our children while working from home – while building new hospitals, designing emergency economic support and preparing the very legislation that Cummings flouted.

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Like everyone, we stayed at home because it’s the law. And to protect others. Do ministers know how demoralising it is for the people who implement their policies that all this work, all the public’s sacrifice, has been torn down in a weekend? To say nothing of how NHS staff must feel.

I hope someone asks the PM: if everyone did what Cummings did, what would the R rate and the death toll be right now – up or down?

The perception of double standards is now uncontained, like a virus itself, hugely destructive to good governance – which the Civil Service Code is there to protect.

I have seen some say the same about that deleted UK Civil Service tweet that called out a breach of the code, as if that is somehow itself a far worse breach.

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But where is the line – when can civil servants call out serious misconduct? Civil Service impartiality remains an extremely important value in our constitution. But I’m not sure it trumps every other value always. This wasn’t someone publicly undermining government policy – leave that to ministers – it was someone protesting wrongdoing at the highest level, after impunity had been conferred at the highest level.

Maybe, in a democracy, there are some things you shouldn’t stay neutral about – like the rule of law. Look at Hungary for where this path can lead. If the tweeter faces Cabinet Office investigation and Cummings doesn’t, is the Civil Service Code worth the paper it’s written on?

But I’ve thought of a way to square the circle, if you’re a pissed-off public servant like me. Every time I log into Facebook, or Twitter, or a newspaper website, I still see the same UK Government adverts. “Stay at home”, “control the virus”, “no-one in your household should leave home if any one person has symptoms”.

The solution is simple: repeat, repost, retweet those adverts. It reinforces the positive public health messages that the behaviour of Cummings and his defenders destroys. It reminds everyone of their hypocrisy.

And it’s not as if civil servants can get into trouble for simply repeating the Government’s own policy, is it…?