Dominic Cummings has said he does not regret breaking lockdown measures and has defended his trip to his parents’ house in Durham.
Cummings has been under fire since a joint investigation by the Mirror and the Guardian revealed he, his wife and young son had travelled to his parents’ house in Durham in late March, when his wife developed coronavirus symptoms.
The PM’s aide today said he thought his behaviour was reasonable since dealing with small children was an “exceptional circumstance.”
Cummings said “it’s not just a simple matter of regulations” and said they describe “various exceptional circumstances where it may not be possible to follow the rules”.
However, it emerged on Saturday that Cummings had been spotted on two other occasions in Durham in April.
Cummings clarified today that the drive to Barnard Castle with his wife and son, which was denied by Number 10 on Sunday, was intended to “test” his eyesight after suffering with coronavirus symptoms.
He added that the reported walk in the woods was on “private land” and he “did not leave the property – it was perfectly reasonable behaviour”.
He admitted it “would have been better to make this statement earlier” but he acted “reasonably and legally”. He said he hadn’t offered his resignation to the PM or considered resigning.
Cummings said his wife had fallen ill on 27 March and, worried he had also been in contact with people with coronavirus symptoms as well as safety issues at home due to “media reports”, Cummings drove to Durham to his parents’ property with his wife and young son.
Under lockdown rules, anyone developing Covid-19 symptoms must stay at home.
The Prime Minister doubled down on his support for Cummings in Sunday’s press briefing. He said Cummings had acted “legally, reasonably and with integrity” when he drove to his parents’ house in Durham.
In justifying his actions today, Cummings blamed the media. “The media have reported incorrect stories that have caused anger… I’ve been shouted at in the street,” he said in Downing Street.
Johnson has faced criticism for his handling of the crisis from his own backbenchers as well as from senior Church of England figures and scientists advising ministers on the crisis.
Cummings clarified he had not told the PM after travelling because Johnson had just tested positive for coronavirus and “had a million things on his plate.”
Earlier today, Durham’s acting police and crime commissioner, Steve White, wrote to the chief constable Jo Farrell “asking her to establish the facts concerning any potential breach of the law or regulations in this matter at any juncture.”
Durham Constabulary later confirmed they had spoken to Cummings’s father but offered “no specific advice” on the lockdown, despite an earlier statement saying they had.
“We can confirm that our office gave no specific advice on coronavirus to any members of the family and that Durham Constabulary deemed that no further action was required in that regard,” they said in a statement. Durham police added that they offered security advice to the family.
This is a breaking news story. More to follow.