Dominic Cummings blames media for public anger over his lockdown trip to Durham

Boris Johnson's top aide says he understands why people reading press accounts of his actions would be furious

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Monday 25 May 2020 18:18
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Dominic Cummings: 'I don't think there's one rule for me and one rule for other people'

Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings has blamed the media for public anger over his 260-mile trip with his wife and child during lockdown.

Answering questions from the media at a press conference in the 10 Downing Street garden, Mr Cummings said he "completely" understood that members of the public might be angered by descriptions in the press of his trip to Durham at a time when his wife had suspected coronavirus and he believed he was about to go down with the illness.

He said that he had been shouted at in the street following the revelation of his actions on Friday.

But he said he hoped the explanation which he gave during the press conference would allow them to see he was in a "very complicated, tricky situation''.

Asked whether he recognised that many members of the public were "furious" at what he had done, Mr Cummings replied: "I certainly do. I have seen some of the media, obviously, over the last couple of days and I'm not surprised that lots of people are very angry.

"If you are sitting at home watching the media over the last three days, I think lots of people would be angry and I completely understand that.

"But I hope and think that today, when I have explained all the circumstances about it, I think people will understand this was a very complicated, tricky situation and I was trying to weigh up a lot of different things."

Mr Cummings added: "There is understandable anger but a lot of that anger is based on reports in the media which have not been true.

"It's extremely regrettable that some of the media that were reporting some of these things that were wrong were told they were wrong but they reported them anyway, and that has caused a lot of anger.

"I know. People have shouted at me in the street 'Why did you go back? Why did you go back to see your parents, just because you wanted to?' But I did not do that."

He said that media reports in recent days suggesting that he had returned to County Durham after 13 April were “false”.

Photos and data on his phone proved that a particular report that he was in the area on 19 April was incorrect, and he was in fact in London at the time, he said.

He also described as “false” media reports that the death of his uncle during this period had played a part in his movements around the country.

“None of us saw him, none of us attended his funeral,” he said.

Mr Cummings said: "Yes, I understand that people watching the media could be very upset about what has happened, but I have explained why."

And he added: “I understand that millions of people have seen media coverage of this issue and I know that millions have endured awful hardship , including personal tragedies, over the past few months and people are suffering every day.

“I know the British people hate the idea of unfairness. I wanted to explain what I thought, what I did and why over this period because I think the people like me who help to make the rules should be accountable for their actions.”

Mr Cummings said: "I have made mistakes with all sorts of things in government. I don't think I've made a mistake about these 14 days that are in question.

"I would stress to people that they should not believe everything they read in the newspapers or everything they see on TV, because lots of the things that are reported are not in fact the case. I hope that I've set out today what the actual facts are and that people will feel, even they disagree with me, that I behaved reasonably in the circumstances."

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