Monday 20 July 2020 4:27 pm

Top nurse was 'dropped' from press conference after denouncing Dominic Cummings

England’s top nurse has said she was banned from speaking at a government’s coronavirus press conferences after telling Downing Street that she would denounce Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham.

Chief nurse Ruth May said she was “dropped” from a press conference appearance in May, after saying she thought Cummings’ much publicised trip was a violation of the coronavirus lockdown rules and would say so if asked.

Read more: Dominic Cummings ‘might’ have broken lockdown rules, say Durham Police

She had already attended preparation for the briefing during the afternoon, before being told she would not be involved.

Cummings came under heavy criticism after it was revealed in May that he had gone to his parents’ guest house in Durham during the coronavirus lockdown to self-isolate with the virus.

Boris Johnson backed his most senior adviser – despite calls from Tory backbench MPs to sack him – by saying he did not break rules because he had to make child care arrangements.

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May told the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee that she did not agree.

“I believe that in my opinion the rules were clear, they were there for everyone’s safety and they applied to us all,” she said.

When asked if Downing Street questioned her on the Cummings incident, she said: ““Yes of course I was asked about lockdown and rules to lockdown.

She added: “I don’t know why I was dropped from the briefing, I’m afraid you would have to ask other people that.”

Read more: Matt Hancock defends Dominic Cummings as lockdown row continues

The allegations about May being dropped from the press conference for her views were first reported by HuffPost shortly after the Cummings row.

Downing Street strongly denied that it did not allow May to speak because of her views on his trip to Durham.