Dominic Cummings defends himself over 260-mile trip to Durham during lockdown saying 'small child's health an exception'


DOMINIC Cummings has defended himself over his 260-mile trip to Durham during lockdown by saying his "small child's health was an exception".

The Prime Minister's top aide today insisted he had done nothing wrong and even faced threats against his family.

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In the first rose garden speech since the coalition years, Boris Johnson's right hand man claimed he thought he had the disease.

He said: "Yesterday I gave a full account to the Prime Minister of my actions between the 27th of March and the 14th of April.

"I should have made this statement earlier.

"I did not ask the PM about this decision.

"He was ill himself and huge problems to deal with.

"My wife felt on the edge of not being able to look after him safely.

"I was thinking what if the same or worse happens to me. The regulations made clear the risks to a small child.

"I had a way of dealing with this that minimised risk to others."

The aide also blamed the media for his trip, saying he did not feel safe at his home due to negative reports.

He explained: "I was subject to threats of violence, people came to my house shouting threats.

"I was worried about leaving my child at home in the night.

"I thought best thing was to drive to an isolated cottage on my father’s farm."

He added that he "did not consider" resigning at any point.

It comes as:

  • Boris confirmed primary schools WILL open on June 1 with some secondary pupils back in following weeks
  • The PM faces a full-blown Cabinet revolt for sticking by embattled top aide Dominic Cummings over his alleged lockdown breach.
  • It was revealed diabetics have to stay at home to shield against the coronavirus once lockdown is lifted.
  • The coronavirus death toll grew by 118 in 24 hours- the lowest rise of any day since lockdown began
  • The BBC admitted it is pressing ahead with controversial plans to axe the free TV licence for millions of OAPs

Speaking in the Downing Street rose garden, Mr Cummings also said allegations he returned to Durham for a second visit after April 14 are “false”.

This morning Durham police revealed they were looking into Mr Cummings actions but had given no specific advice on coronavirus.

In a statement, they said: "He told the officer that his son and son’s wife were displaying symptoms of coronavirus and were self-isolating in part of the property.

"We can further confirm that our officer 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. Our officer did, however, provide the family with advice on security issues."

The probe comes with Boris Johnson facing a full-blown Cabinet revolt for sticking by his embattled top aide.

Last night PM said he had cleared his most senior adviser of any wrongdoing and branded his actions “sensible and defensible”.

Mr Cummings is accused of ignoring strict government advice by driving his virus-stricken wife, Mary Wakefield, from London to self-isolate at his family farm near Durham.

He spent five hours holed up in No 10 yesterday, fuelling speculation he was about to quit.

But Boris emerged to tell the nation he was standing by his man, who he said was only trying to protect his four-year-old son.

Hosting a tense evening No 10 briefing, Boris dismissed growing calls for an official inquiry.

Instead he insisted Dominic Cummings had acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”, and “stuck to the rules”.

The PM added: “He followed the instinct of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that.”

But that enraged some Cabinet ministers, who are aligning with Tory MPs to demand that Mr Cummings is sacked.

One minister said: “Cummings is going to burn us all. He cannot stay.

"There has to be some contrition from Boris too or he will spend the next ten weeks having to answer questions about it all.

“This is not a bubble story. Real people are furious, because they have been doing the right thing and isolating.”

A second minister added: “The test is simple: Is retaining Cummings a sign of strength or weakness? It’s increasingly looking like the latter.”



A Tory MP in a northern constituency said colleagues there were fuming at No 10.

They told The Sun: “We are f****** livid. We cannot understand why the PM didn’t launch an inquiry to get to the facts.”

Another Tory added: “Are we putting Dom Cummings before the R rate? It looks like it.”

Another said: “I can only think Boris is just dependent on him, like a battery in a Duracell bunny.

“If we don’t sort this the public will turn against us in a big way.”

Boris refused to say if he knew about Mr Cummings’ 260-mile trip or if he had sanctioned it.

He also refused to answer whether ordinary Brits could leave their main residence for elsewhere if they had childcare concerns.

The PM did hint that there were some special circumstances that influenced Mr Cummings’ decision, but “for medical reasons I don’t want to go into it”.

Furious Tory backbenchers are demanding the controversial aide is booted out of his role immediately.

Yesterday Tory MP Steve Baker became the first to publicly call for him to resign.

Appearing on Sky News, he said: “If he doesn’t resign we’ll keep burning through Boris’s political capital.

“I think mums and dads who very much care about their children and who have been foregoing the childcare of their extended family will wonder why he has been allowed to do this.

“We're now in a nonsense position, a pantomime position where it seems if you wish to apply a wide common sense interpretation of the rules you can do, at least if you work in Number 10.

“It’s ridiculous and he has to go.”

The Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also demanded he go, pointing to the resignation of Scotland's Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood after it was revealed she visited her second home.

She tweeted: "I know it is tough to lose a trusted adviser at the height of crisis, but when it’s a choice of that or integrity of vital public health advice, the latter must come first.

"That’s the judgement I and, to her credit, Catherine Calderwood reached. PM and Cummings should do likewise."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "This was a test of the Prime Minister and he has failed it.

"It is an insult to sacrifices made by the British people that Boris Johnson has chosen to take no action against Dominic Cummings.

"The public will be forgiven for thinking there is one rule for the Prime Minister's closest adviser and another for the British people.

"The Prime Minister's actions have undermined confidence in his own public health message at this crucial time.

"Millions were watching for answers and they got nothing. That's why the Cabinet Secretary must now launch an urgent inquiry."

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