Ministers squirm as they insist Dominic Cummings did NOT break rules

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Boris Johnson last night mounted a determined defence of his controversial aide Dominic Cummings, telling allies: ‘It’s not like he was visiting a lover’ when he allegedly broke lockdown rules. 

But just as the Prime Minister resolved to stand by his right-hand-man, the Downing Street adviser was rocked by fresh claims of flouting from two witnesses, which whipped up a further frenzy for him to be sacked. 

The first witness claimed to have seen Mr Cummings at a town 30 miles away from his parents’ Durham farm where he was self-isolating with his wife and child – despite earlier insisting he had ‘stayed put’ the whole time.

A second said they sighted Mr Cummings back in Durham on April 19, five days after he had returned to work in Westminster – suggesting he made a second 264-mile trip to the North East as the public was being told to stay at home.

The revelations, reported in the Observer and Sunday Mirror, have poured petrol on the row engulfing the PM’s aide, who has so far clung on to his position.  

Before the latest accusations of rule-breaking emerged, allies said Mr Johnson had ‘thrown a protective ring’ around his most senior lieutenant because he had a ‘compelling case’ for his trip which earned him ‘the benefit of the doubt’.

‘Breaking lockdown to see your mistress is very different from doing everything to protect your toddler,’ said one. 

The PM told friends: ‘Dominic acted within the guidance and was simply caring for his family. I now consider the matter closed 

The premier also added: ‘It’s not like he was visiting a lover,’ suggesting Mr Cummings was not poised to suffer the same fate as Sage scientist Prof Neil Ferguson. 

However last night’s claims the 48-year-old maverick adviser broke lockdown rules repeatedly is likely to test the PM’s support, with one Downing Street insider branding Mr Cummings’s behaviour ‘Domnishambles’.

Number 10 furiously rubbished the reports and said it will not ‘waste time answering a stream of false allegations from campaigning newspapers’.

But they were facing a fire on another front after Durham Constabulary contradicted Downing Street’s statement that Mr Cummings family had not been contacted by police for travelling to Durham in late March.

The force last night released its own statement confirming officers had spoken to Mr Cummings’s father Robert.    

Mr Cummings (pictured leaving home with his son today) insisted he was entitled to make the journey to get to family

Mr Cummings (pictured leaving home with his son today) insisted he was entitled to make the journey to get to family 

Challenged by reporters at his London home this afternoon whether his actions looked bad, a defiant Dominic Cummings said ‘who cares about good looks’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Downing Street briefing that the No10 chief had the 'full support' of Boris Johnson, as he faced a barrage of questions

Mr Cummings' wife Mary Wakefield today

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Downing Street briefing that the No10 chief had the ‘full support’ of Boris Johnson, as he faced a barrage of questions. Mr Cummings travelled with his wife Mary Wakefield (pictured right today)

Dominic Cummings was fighting for his political life today as pressure mounted on Boris Johnson to sack his chief adviser for flouting lockdown rules (duo pictured in September)

Dominic Cummings was fighting for his political life today as pressure mounted on Boris Johnson to sack his chief adviser for flouting lockdown rules (duo pictured in September)

No10 has insisted that Mr Cummings was in a separate part of the property, and had no contact with his extended family

No10 has insisted that Mr Cummings was in a separate part of the property, and had no contact with his extended family

Timeline of Cummings’ lockdown row 

March 23: As the coronavirus crisis escalates, the UK is placed into lockdown with strict limitations on travel.

The Government guidelines state: ‘You should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home.’

Those in a household with symptoms must ‘stay at home and not leave the house’ for up to 14 days. 

March 27: Both Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock test positive for coronavirus, while chief medical officer Chris Whitty says he has symptoms of the disease and is self-isolating.

March 30: Downing Street confirms Mr Cummings is suffering from coronavirus symptoms and is self-isolating.

March 31: Durham police are ‘made aware of reports that an individual had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city’.

The force said officers ‘made contact with the owners of that address who confirmed that the individual in question was present and was self-isolating in part of the house.

‘In line with national policing guidance, officers explained to the family the arrangements around self-isolation guidelines and reiterated the appropriate advice around essential travel.’

April 5: An unnamed neighbour tells the Mirror and the Guardian Mr Cummings was seen in his parents’ garden .

‘I got the shock of my life as I looked over to the gates and saw him,’ they said. 

March 30 – April 6: The period Mr Cummings’ wife Mary Wakefield describes the family’s battle with coronavirus in the April 25 issue of the Spectator.

She makes no mention of the trip to Durham and describes the challenges of caring for their son while suffering the symptoms of Covid-19.

She says their small son nursed Mr Cummings with Ribena. 

April 12: Robert Lees, a retired chemistry teacher, claims to have seen Mr Cummings 30 miles away from his parents home in Barnard Castle. 

April 14: Mr Cummings returns to work for the first time since news he was suffering from Coronavirus emerged.

Questions are raised about his adherence to social distancing advice as he is photographed walking down Downing Street with fellow aide Cleo Watson.

April 19: A passer-by claims to have spotted Mr Cummings and his family admiring bluebells with his wife, back in Durham.

May 22: News breaks in the Mirror and the Guardian of Mr Cummings’ trip to Durham.

May 23: Downing Street stands by the PM’s chief aide, saying in a statement: ‘Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.’ 

That evening, a joint Sunday Mirror and Observer investigation reveals the two new eyewitness claims. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said at today’s daily press briefing the important thing was that the 48-year-old adviser had ‘stayed put’ for two weeks once he arrived at his parents’ property in March. 

But this narrative appeared to unravel last night when a witness claimed he had sighted Mr Cummings at a town 30 miles away from his parents’ home.

Robert Lees, a retired chemistry teacher, said he saw the maverick Brexiteer and his family walking in Barnard Castle, Teesdale, on April 12.

He told the papers: ‘I was a bit gobsmacked to see him, because I know what he looks like. And the rest of the family seemed to match – a wife and child. 

‘I was pretty convinced it was him and it didn’t seem right because I assumed he would be in London.’

Calling for the aide to resign, he added: ‘I went home and told my wife, we thought he must be in London. I searched up the number plate later that day and my computer search history shows that.’

Mr Cummings was dealt a further blow by a neighbour who alleged to have seen him back in Durham on April 19, five days after he was first pictured back in Number 10.

The unnamed passer-by said he spotted the PM’s senior aide admiring the ‘lovely’ bluebells with his wife Mary Wakefield in Houghall Woods, near his parents’ farm.

It suggests Mr Cummings travelled back to the North East having returned to work in Westminster after recovering from Covid-19. 

Earlier, a defiant Mr Cummings responded ‘who cares’ when he was asked by reporters whether his actions looked bad.

But one Number 10 insider jokingly branded his behaviour ‘Domnishambles’, a reference to the derisive term ‘omnishambles’ first used to describe an all-encompassing mess in BBC political satire The Thick Of It and then in the Commons by Ed Miliband.  

The latest claims flared-up calls for Mr Cummings to be sacked. 

 SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the adviser ‘must’ be sacked.

He tweeted: ‘It is clear that Boris Johnson must sack Dominic Cummings. When the PMs top advisor ignores the Government’s instruction to the public not to engage in non-essential travel he has to leave office. Immediately.’ 

He has even called on the head of the civil service to investigate the ‘rule-breaking and the Tory Government’s cover-up’. 

Acting Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said: ‘If Dominic Cummings is now allowed to remain in place a moment longer, it will increasingly be the Prime Minister’s judgment that is in the spotlight.

‘Surely Boris Johnson must now recognise the actions of his top adviser are an insult to the millions who have made huge personal sacrifices to stop the spread of coronavirus.’ 

Critics have been buoyed by the weight of public opinion, with a YouGov poll finding 68 per cent of people believe Mr Cummings flouted the rules and more than half (52 per cent) thought he should resign. Just 28 per cent believe he should stay at No 10. 

A No 10 spokeswoman last night said: ‘Yesterday the Mirror and Guardian wrote inaccurate stories about Mr Cummings.

‘Today they are writing more inaccurate stories including claims that Mr Cummings returned to Durham after returning to work in Downing Street on 14 April.

‘We will not waste our time answering a stream of false allegations about Mr Cummings from campaigning newspapers.’  

Dominic Cummings and wife Mary Wakefield, who wrote about her husband's coronavirus battle

Dominic Cummings and wife Mary Wakefield, who wrote about her husband’s coronavirus battle 

The property in Durham has a series of outbuildings, and it is thought Mr Cummings stayed in one of them with his family

The property in Durham has a series of outbuildings, and it is thought Mr Cummings stayed in one of them with his family

Mr Cummings' parents' farm, where he relocated with his wife and son when they came down with coronavirus symptoms

Mr Cummings’ parents’ farm, where he relocated with his wife and son when they came down with coronavirus symptoms 

Cummings’s ex-brother in law comes to his defence 

Dominic Cummings‘s ex-brother-in-law last night rode to his defence by insisting it was ‘very, very easy’ for the PM’s chief adviser to self-isolate at his parents’ home in Durham.

Matthew Herriott, a farmer who lives close to North Lodge, said that the property includes a number of self-contained apartments attached to the main building, which are only accessible via a separate entrance.

It meant that Cummings, his wife Mary Wakefield and their young son were able to stay in the £800,0000 sandstone farmhouse without coming into contact with his parents, Morag and Robert.

There are also outbuildings on the estate where guests are believed to stay from time to time.

In a statement yesterday, Downing Street insisted Mr Cummings’s sister shopped for the family and left everything outside the door.

‘North Lodge is without question big enough to accommodate that amount of people,’ Mr Herriott told The Mail on Sunday. ‘It’s one building but it’s split into separate apartments so it’s very, very easy for everyone to self-isolate.

‘It has several extensions, if you will, so it’s more than adequate to live there and not to have any contact with anybody whatsoever. It is also set in an acre of grounds I believe.’ 

As well as taking flak for stonewalling the accusations, Downing Street has come under fire for offering a differing version of events from Durham Constabulary.

No 10 had said this morning: ‘At no stage was he [Mr Cummings] or his family spoken to about this matter, as is being reported,’ and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that statement was ‘black and white’ at the daily Downing Street briefing.

But in a statement released on Saturday night, the force said: ‘Following a significant number of media inquiries over the weekend, Durham Constabulary can add the following detail.

‘On Tuesday, March 31, our officers were made aware that Dominic Cummings had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city.

‘At the request of Mr Cummings’ father, an officer made contact the following morning by telephone.

‘During that conversation, Mr Cummings’ father confirmed that his son had travelled with his family from London to the North-East and was self-isolating in part of the property.

‘Durham Constabulary deemed that no further action was required. However, the officer did provide advice in relation to security issues.’  

Mr Cummings swatted away questions from reporters today, saying: ‘It’s a question of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you guys think,’ he said.

He also berated photographers for not following social distancing rules by staying two metres apart.

His mother also let rip on a reporter. Speaking from the family home via intercom, she said: ‘I have got one thing to say, Dominic’s uncle died on Palm Sunday and you should be ashamed of yourself.’   

A host of Cabinet ministers also rallied round. Michael Gove, Mr Cummings’ former boss, tweeted: ‘Caring for your wife and child is not a crime.’ Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Matt Hancock also offered backing.  

But a tweet from Mr Johnson’s account this afternoon underlined the issue ministers face explaining the situation. 

‘If you have symptoms of #coronavirus, you should self-isolate and get yourself tested,’ the message said. 

The government guidance at the time said that those self-isolating ‘must stay at home and not leave the house’, as well as ‘staying away’ from vulnerable elderly people. In an account of their ordeal published last month, Mr Cummings’ journalist wife Mary Wakefield also described how he was nursed by their small son with Ribena – suggesting he stayed with them throughout. The PM’s official spokesman told reporters at the time that Mr Cummings was isolating ‘at home’.  

Repeatedly grilled on the controversy at the briefing this evening, Mr Shapps said: ‘The important thing is that everyone remains in the same place whilst they are on lockdown which is exactly what happened in I think the case you’re referring to with Mr Cummings.

‘The prime minister will have known he was staying put and he didn’t come out again until he was feeling better.’

Mr Shapps added: ‘The guidance says if you’re living with children keep following this advice to the best of your ability.

‘However, we are aware that not all these measures will be possible depending therefore on circumstances.’  

Suggesting the guidance was down to individual interpretation, Mr Shapps said: ‘It’s for an individual to make the decision ‘how do I make sure I’ve got enough support around the family’, particularly in the case you are referring to with a potential of both parents ending up being ill and having a young child to look after.

Poll finds 68% of Britons think Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules 

More than two-thirds of Brits think Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules by driving to Durham while in self-isolation, with more than half believing he should resign, a snap poll has found tonight.

The survey of 3,707 adults, carried out by YouGov today, found just 28 per cent think he should stay on, and another 20 per cent on the fence.

The YouGov poll tonight also revealed Conservative voters were split over whether he should retain his position, with 41 per cent of those who responded saying he should quit while 43 per cent want him to remain as senior adviser to Boris Johnson.

Chris Curtis, political research manager at YouGov, said: ‘These are clearly troubling numbers for the Government and Mr Cummings. 

‘The public already thought that the Government was too hasty in lifting parts of lockdown and it’s likely they will be even less impressed if key public figures are perceived to have broken rules they think are not strict enough.

‘Of course, the Government will be hoping everyone quickly moves on from a story about a relatively unknown adviser, but it’s going to be tough when the public thinks he was wrong and that he should go.’   

‘How do you have that support network around them, and the decision here was to go to that location and stay in that location. They don’t then need to move around from there and so it would be for each individual to work out the best way to do that, which is what’s happened here.’

Mr Shapps added: ‘You have to get yourself in lockdown and do that in the best and most practical way – and I think that will be different for different people under whatever circumstances, their particular family differences, happen to dictate, that’s all that’s happened in this case.’

On whether Mr Johnson knew of Mr Cummings activities, Mr Shapps pointed out that the PM had been ill himself at the time.  ‘I can tell you the PM provides Mr Cummings with his full support and Mr Cummings has provided a full statement,’ he said.  

Asked to clarify guidance about travelling during lockdown, Dr Jenny Harries said it was ‘clear’ someone with symptoms should self-isolate along with their family.

But she said all the guidance had a ‘common sense’ element about safeguarding. Dr Harries said: ‘So we don’t want an elderly person sitting at home without their medication because they feel they can’t come out.’

Dr Harries said if there was a ‘safeguarding issue’ where a child had ‘no support’, that was also an issue.

‘There’s always a safeguarding clause in all of the advice,’ she said, adding: ‘The interpretation of that advice is probably for others.’  

Sources close to Mr Cummings say there is ‘zero chance’ of him quitting.  

Dorset police and crime commissioner Martyn Underhill warned this morning that the breach will be thrown in the face of officers as they tried to restrain sun-seeking visitors on what is expected to be a hot bank holiday weekend.

Mr Underhill said the furore would inevitably be cited by people flocking to beauty spots and beaches in Dorset this weekend. 

‘It is unfortunate the timing of this as it is going to be the busiest weekend Dorset has seen this year,’ he said.   

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner weighed in to say Mr Cummings’s actions had made policing the lockdown ‘much harder’.

In a statement, former Labour MP David Jamieson said: ‘The police’s job of enforcing the lockdown has been made much harder after both the actions of Dominic Cummings travelling over 260 miles and the flexibility with which the Government now seem to interpret the guidance. 

He urged the PM to sack his adviser ‘to restore public confidence and some credibility to his handling of this dreadful Covid-19 crisis’.

Tory aides who have felt the wrath of Mr Cummings were also withering about his controversy. 

‘Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,’ one told MailOnline. ‘But I’m sure they won’t concede him.’ 

Another agreed that Mr Cummings would not go. ‘He’s too needed,’ they said. ‘Who else will be willing to fulfill the role he’s created?’  

Labour claimed Number 10’s explanations for Mr Cummings’s behaviour ‘raised more questions than they answer’ including when the Prime Minister was made aware of his decision to travel from London to Durham during lockdown.

The letter added: ‘The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for the Prime Minister’s most senior adviser.’

It comes after the SNP wrote to Sir Mark earlier to call for an investigation into the matter. 

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: ‘He ought to have resigned by now, but it’s quite clear after that performance today by the Transport Secretary that there is no real defence and that Dominic Cummings should now be sacked by the Prime Minister.’

He added: ‘We should have been hearing from the Prime Minister today… The Prime Minister needs to come clean about when he knew about this, whether or not he authorised this, why he hasn’t taken his responsibilities in asking Dominic Cummings to resign? But, failing that, making sure that he sacks him.

‘Because this man has undermined the public messaging that the UK Government has sought to deliver.’

But Mr Raab said today: ‘It’s reasonable and fair to ask for an explanation on this. And it has been provided: two parents with coronavirus, were anxiously taking care of their young child. Those now seeking to politicise it should take a long hard look in the mirror.’  

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted: ‘Dom Cummings followed the guidelines and looked after his family. End of story.’ 

Durham’s acting police and crime commissioner sadi Mr Cummings’ journey from London to County Durham was ‘most unwise’.

In a statement, Steve White said: ‘Given the whole ethos of the guidance and regulations issued from the Government was to reduce the spread, regardless of reason, by travelling to County Durham when known to be infected was most unwise.

‘To beat this crisis we need to be selfless as millions have been. The response by the people of County Durham and Darlington have been exemplary, which makes this most frustrating and concerning.’

Mr White, a former head of the Police Federation in England and Wales, added: ‘Incidents such as this do not help, and I can appreciate that the longer this goes on the harder it gets, but I encourage the people of County Durham and Darlington to keep up the outstanding effort seen so far by using common sense when following the guidance to stay alert and continue to social distance.’

Neighbours were ‘shocked’ to see him in the North East a few days after he was pictured in Westminster and announced to be isolating with Covid-19 symptoms.

His wife, the journalist Mary Wakefield, wrote about his struggle with the disease and suggested he was holed up at their London residence, as did the Prime Minister’s spokesperson at the time.  

The government was still putting out information telling people not to visit the home of friends and family today

The government was still putting out information telling people not to visit the home of friends and family today

Rishi Sunak

Matt Hancock

Amid a concerted Tory effort to shore up the key aide, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Matt Hancock voiced backing for his behaviour

The neighbour, who did not want to give their name, told the Mirror: ‘I got the shock of my life. There was a child, presumably his little boy, running around in front. I recognised Dominic Cummings, he’s a very distinctive figure. 

‘I was really annoyed. I thought ‘it’s OK for you to drive all the way up to Durham and escape from London’. 

‘I sympathise with him wanting to do that but other people are not allowed to do that. It’s one rule for Dominic Cummings and one rule for the rest of us.’ 

On April 14, the aide was pictured back in Westminster for the first time since his coronavirus recovery.   

Mr Cummings was not slapped with the £60 fine for breaching the rules, which were ushered in on March 26.

They stated: ‘You should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home. 

‘The only exception is if they need help, such as having shopping or medication dropped off.’

The day after these curbs were enforced, on March 27, Mr Cummings raised eyebrows when he was pictured sprinting along Downing Street after it was announced that Mr Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had tested positive for coronavirus.

On March 30, news broke that the aide was self-isolating with Covid-19 symptoms, and the PM’s spokesperson later confirmed he was ‘at home’. 

The PM’s official spokesman told journalists: ‘I think he’s in touch with No10 but he is at home, he is self-isolating, he has some symptoms.’ 

Several days later, on April 5, Mr Cummings allegedly remained at the property in Durham and was spotted by a neighbour of Mr Cummings’ parents, Robert, 73, and Morag, 71.

They claimed they spotted him outside the property while passing for their daily exercise and heard Abba’s Dancing Queen playing loudly.

The neighbour saw the political aide, wearing a scarf and coat, and with a small boy running around, believed to be his son.   

The government issued its latest slides showing the status of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK this evening

The government issued its latest slides showing the status of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK this evening

Neighbours in Durham split over No10 chief’s lockdown visit 

The property where Mr Cummings is understood to have travelled 260 miles to with his family is a stone cottage with a separate building to the rear. 

The period house, to the south of the historic city of Durham, is positioned in a rural setting, surrounded by trees and farmland, but on a busy main road. 

One neighbour described how a big sign saying ‘Brexit means Brexit’ was on display for a time on family owned land in the area. 

The substantial home, which is estimated to be worth around £695,000, appears to have separate accommodation at the back. 

The average price of a house in Durham is just £193,000. 

Some locals reacted angrily to the news the political advisor had apparently broken lockdown rules. 

However, others remained defiant, and spoke in support of the 48-year-old. Amanda Fay, 46, a company director, a neighbour of the parents of Dominic Cummings, said: ‘He is an idiot, it’s a joke, it is unfair. 

‘I don’t know why he should be allowed to travel. ‘How can it be for childcare? How is that possible? He is staying with elderly parents as well which is obviously putting them at risk. 

‘Considering he also had symptoms that makes it even worse, even more shocking. ‘It’s as though he can do whatever he wants. He is putting people in Durham at risk. Why should he not get reprimanded for it? 

‘I agree with a lot of people, he should resign. Why make rules you can’t abide by?’ 

Another neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, defended him and said: ‘I never saw him in person. ‘But I am sure he behaved perfectly while he was here. 

‘I think it is entirely reasonable, if it’s an emergency, I don’t see any reason to get up tight.’  

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick clung on to his cabinet job following revelations he had travelled from London to his country home. 

Mr Jenrick was also criticised for travelling 150 miles from his London property to his Herefordshire home from where he travelled to his parents in Shropshire.

However, he defended his actions, saying he went to deliver food and medicine to his isolating parents.

This month Professor Neil Ferguson quit as a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) after it was revealed his girlfriend had been visiting him during lockdown. 

Scotland Yard criticised his behaviour as ‘plainly disappointing’ but ruled out issuing a fine because he ‘has taken responsibility’ after resigning as a key Government adviser in the coronavirus response. 

Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, also quit after making two trips to her second home during lockdown.

Despite Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backing Dr Calderwood to remain in her position, she ultimately decided to relinquish her role so as not to be a ‘distraction’ from the Government’s social-distancing message. 

Mr Cummings was is a long-serving political aide who has garnered a reputation as a maverick in Westminster.

He made waves as a special adviser to then Education Secretary Michael Gove, who locked horns with teachers he referred to as the ‘blob’.

The arch-Brexiteer masterminded the Vote Leave victory in the 2016 referendum, but was quickly cast into the political wilderness when Theresa May became premier.

He returned to government in 2019 as Mr Johnson’s most senior adviser in Downing Street. 

The property where Mr Cummings is understood to have travelled 260 miles to with his family is a stone cottage with a separate building to the rear. 

The period house, to the south of the historic city of Durham, is positioned in a rural setting, surrounded by trees and farmland, but on a busy main road. 

One neighbour described how a big sign saying ‘Brexit means Brexit’ was on display for a time on family owned land in the area. 

The substantial home, which is estimated to be worth around £695,000, appears to have separate accommodation at the back. 

The average price of a house in Durham is just £193,000. 

Some locals reacted angrily to the news the political advisor had apparently broken lockdown rules. 

However, others remained defiant, and spoke in support of the 48-year-old. Amanda Fay, 46, a company director, a neighbour of the parents of Dominic Cummings, said: ‘He is an idiot, it’s a joke, it is unfair. 

‘I don’t know why he should be allowed to travel. ‘How can it be for childcare? How is that possible? He is staying with elderly parents as well which is obviously putting them at risk. 

‘Considering he also had symptoms that makes it even worse, even more shocking. ‘It’s as though he can do whatever he wants. He is putting people in Durham at risk. Why should he not get reprimanded for it? 

‘I agree with a lot of people, he should resign. Why make rules you can’t abide by?’ 

Another neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, defended him and said: ‘I never saw him in person. ‘But I am sure he behaved perfectly while he was here. 

‘I think it is entirely reasonable, if it’s an emergency, I don’t see any reason to get up tight.’  

Who are the other high-profile figures accused of breaking the lockdown?

Professor Neil Ferguson

The scientist, whose research helped usher in the lockdown, resigned from his role as a key Government adviser after admitting that he had undermined social distancing rules by reportedly meeting his ‘lover’ Antonia Staats at his home.

Scotland Yard criticised his behaviour as ‘plainly disappointing’ but ruled out issuing a fine because he ‘has taken responsibility’ after resigning as a key Government adviser in the coronavirus response.

Dr Catherine Calderwood

Scotland’s chief medical officer resigned in April after twice breaking lockdown restrictions in order to visit her second home, which was located more than an hour away from her main residence in Edinburgh.

Despite Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backing Dr Calderwood to remain in her position, she ultimately decided to relinquish her role so as not to be a ‘distraction’ from the Government’s social-distancing message.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick

Robert Jenrick

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary was forced to explain himself after travelling more than an hour to visit his parents despite warning people to remain at home.

Mr Jenrick was also criticised for travelling 150 miles from his London property to his Herefordshire home from where he travelled to his parents in Shropshire.

However, he defended his actions, saying he went to deliver food and medicine to his isolating parents.

Stephen Kinnock

The MP for Aberavon in South Wales was publicly shamed by police after travelling to London to celebrate his father’s birthday.

After Mr Kinnock posted a photo on Twitter of himself practising social distancing with his parents outside their home, South Wales Police replied: ‘We know celebrating your Dad’s birthday is a lovely thing to do, however this is not essential travel. We all have our part to play in this, we urge you to comply with (lockdown) restrictions, they are in place to keep us all safe. Thank you.’

From Vote Leave to Team Boris: The rise of Dominic Cummings, the political maverick accused of breaking lockdown rules

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior aide Dominic Cummings has allegedly been caught breaking lockdown rules by visiting his parents’ home in Durham while he was recovering from Covid-19.

Mr Cummings rose to notoriety in politics, first as an adviser to Michael Gove and then as campaign director at the official Brexit group Vote Leave.

He was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in a Channel 4 drama about the Brexit campaign, which played up his role in covering a red bus with the disputed £350 million a week figure, arguing the cash could be used to fund the NHS.

Mr Cummings, a hate figure for many pro-EU politicians, said the £350 million/NHS argument was ‘necessary to win’ the campaign.

Mr Johnson appointed Mr Cummings to his top team as senior adviser at Number 10 when he became Prime Minister in the summer of 2019

Mr Johnson appointed Mr Cummings to his top team as senior adviser at Number 10 when he became Prime Minister in the summer of 2019

Mr Johnson appointed Mr Cummings to his top team as senior adviser at Number 10 when he became Prime Minister in the summer of 2019.

The appointment of the abrasive former campaign director was controversial, given he was found to be in contempt of Parliament earlier in the year for refusing to give evidence to MPs investigating misinformation.

Mr Cummings has built a reputation as someone who does not play by the rules of conventional politics.

He was once called a ‘career psychopath’ by former prime minister David Cameron, according to widely reported remarks.

But Mr Cummings is no stranger to an insult either, describing David Davis, then the Brexit secretary, as ‘thick as mince, lazy as a toad and vain as Narcissus’ in July 2017.

Mr Cummings rose to notoriety in politics, first as an adviser to Michael Gove and then as campaign director at the official Brexit group Vote Leave

Mr Cummings rose to notoriety in politics, first as an adviser to Michael Gove and then as campaign director at the official Brexit group Vote Leave 

The December 2019 election victory gave Mr Johnson the political capital he needed to take bold decisions – and Mr Cummings soon set to work on his goal of reshaping Whitehall, issuing a recruitment call for data scientists, economists and ‘weirdos and misfits with odd skills’ to shake up the Civil Service.

In April, it was revealed Mr Cummings has also been present at meetings co-ordinating the response to the coronavirus pandemic as part of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

This raised concerns over a lack of breadth in expertise of the meetings and political interference in science-based advice.

Mr Cummings had previously been observed failing to follow the two-metre social distancing rules as he walked along Downing Street flanked by fellow aide Cleo Watson on April 14.  

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