Dominic Cummings not resigning over lockdown trip to Durham

Aide acted responsibly and legally, prime minister says 

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Sunday 24 May 2020 18:07
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Boris Johnson leaps to the defence of Dominic Cummings

Boris Johnson has indicated he will not sack his most senior adviser despite a 260-mile journey during lockdown.

Mr Cummings went into Downing Street just before noon on Sunday, amid mounting calls for the prime minister to sack him.

Tory MPs had lined up to say Mr Cummings’s position was untenable following fresh allegations of trips made while the country was told to stay at home.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said Mr Cummings had “followed the instincts of every father and every parent”.

The prime minister said his closest aide had in “every respect acted responsibly and legally and with integrity and with the fundamental aim of stopping the virus and saving lives.”

Earlier a cabinet minister categorically denied a claim Mr Cummings went back to Durham after returning to London in mid-April.

But he failed to rule out that Mr Cummings had made a sightseeing trip 30 miles from his family’s home on Easter Sunday, at the height of the lockdown.

No 10 has already admitted that Mr Cummings went from London to Durham in late March.

But they said that trip was essential, as Mr Cummngs needed his family’s help to care for his young son because his wife was sick with coronavirus and he feared he was next.

Earlier Transport Secretary Grant Shapps struggled to explain Mr Cummings’s movements during lockdown.

Mr Shapps repeatedly described events and the timeline "as I understand it".

He said he did not know if Mr Cummings had taken a day trip to Barnard Castle on April 12, as reported, but added that would have been after his 14-day isolation period.

He told the Sophy Ridge show: "I certainly know that the first one you mention, of travelling back up (to Durham), I know that is not true.

"I'm afraid I don't know (about Barnard Castle) but if that date was true that would have been outside the 14-day period. But I'm afraid I don't have the information on that.”

He also said Mr Johnson was “pretty ill” when Mr Cummings took the 250-mile trip during lockdown, as he dodged questions about what the prime minister knew and when.

Mr Shapps said he did not think the journey would have been “high on (his) agenda”.

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