Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

PM's chief aide Dominic Cummings under pressure amid new coronavirus lockdown breach allegations

The prime minister’s chief aide Dominic Cummings is under renewed pressure over further new allegations he broke the coronavirus lockdown rules on numerous occasions.

Reports in the Mirror and Guardian allege Mr Cummings left the Durham home where he was staying to visit a popular tourist destination 30 miles away.

He was also allegedly spotted by witnesses back in Durham on April 19 - just days after he was photographed in London after having recovered from coronavirus on April 14.

The fresh allegations come after it emerged Mr Cummings travelled from London to Durham in the first week of April with his partner and four-year-old while he was self-isolating.

Downing Street officials defended Mr Cummings’s decision to travel to Durham to isolate on a property near his parents home, citing childcare reasons after he and his wife had fallen ill.

Ministers had said Mr Cummings had stayed put after arriving at a property in Durham, where he had travelled.

  • David Wood discusses latest allegations about Mr Cummings

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing, said Mr Cummings had “stayed put for 14 days” while residing at a family property, having preempted his own illness once his wife showed Covid-19 symptoms.

But if correct, the trip to popular tourist destination Barnard Castle would call that testimony into question.

Robin Lees, 70, told the Guardian and the Mirror he saw Mr Cummings and his family walking by the Tees before getting into a car around lunch time on April 12.

He told them: “I was pretty convinced it was him and it didn’t seem right because I assumed he would be in London.”

Asked if he thought the prime minister’s chief aide should resign, he said: “Of course he should… You don’t take the virus from one part of the country to another.”

In response to the latest claims in the Mirror and Observer, a No 10 spokeswoman 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.”

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

At the daily Government press briefing, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Mr Cummings had the prime minister’s “full support” following initial allegations released on Friday that Mr Cummings broke lockdown rules.

Mr Shapps said: “The Prime Minister knew that he (Mr Cummings) was, quite properly, staying in place with his family, which is the right thing to do.”

Mr Cummings said he "behaved reasonably and legally”.

Asked by reporters if his trip to Durham during lockdown looked good, he said: “Who cares about good looks. It’s a question of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you guys think.”

Labour has written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, demanding an urgent inquiry into Mr Cummings’s trip.

In their letter, they said: “The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for the Prime Minister’s most senior adviser.”

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know: