Dominic Cummings defends making trip to County Durham during lockdown

After a ferocious row broke over his behaviour across the weekend Mr Cummings gave an unprecedented press conference to journalists in the garden of No.10.

It is unheard of for a government adviser to hold a press conference to journalists at No.10 and according to the code of conduct for special advisers, they must not take public part in political controversy in any sort of statement of speech to the press.

Mr Cummings travelled to County Durham in March to self-isolate with his family while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys, apparently because he feared that he and his wife would be left unable to care for their son.

Answering questions in Downing Street’s garden, Dominic Cummings said: “I don’t regret what I did. I think reasonable people may well disagree about how I thought about what to do in the circumstances, but I think what I did was actually reasonable in these circumstances.

“The rules made clear that if you are dealing with small children that can be exceptional circumstances.

“And I think that the situation that I was in was exceptional circumstances and the way that I dealt with it was the least risk to everybody concerned if my wife and I had both been unable to look after our four-year-old.”

Mr Cummings said that he had not offered to resign at any point.

Setting out the details of his actions, Mr Cummings said the Prime Minister had asked him to publicly give his account and he acknowledged he should have spoken earlier.

“I know that millions of people in this country have been suffering, thousands have died, many are angry about what they have seen in the media about my actions,” he said.

“I want to clear up the confusions and misunderstandings where I can.

“In retrospect, I should have made this statement earlier.”

Mr Cummings said stories suggested he had opposed lockdown and “did not care about many deaths”.

“The truth is that I had argued for lockdown, I did not oppose it but these stories had created a very bad atmosphere around my home, I was subjected to threats of violence, people came to my house shouting threats, there were posts on social media encouraging attacks.”

Mr Cummings said he was worried that “this situation would get worse” and “I was worried about the possibility of leaving my wife and child at home all day and often into the night while I worked in Number 10.”

“I thought the best thing to do in all the circumstances was to drive to an isolated cottage on my father’s farm.”

At least 20 Conservative MPs have now publicly called for Mr Cummings to resign.