Devastating new claims have emerged that Dominic Cummings additional breached the lockdown guidelines, as Downing Road got here below sustained strain to fireside the prime minister’s most senior adviser.
The brand new testimony suggests Cummings left the house the place he was staying in Durham to go to a city 30 miles away. He was allegedly noticed again in Durham on 19 April, days after he was photographed in London having recovered from the virus.
On the time, with the nation on the peak of the pandemic, the federal government was insisting that individuals must be staying at house.
Every week earlier Cummings was seen by one other witness in Barnard Fortress on Easter Day, 30 miles away from Durham, the investigation discovered. The city, which takes its title from the English Heritage web site at its centre, is a well-liked vacation spot for days out.
Robin Lees, 70, a retired chemistry trainer from the city, says he noticed Cummings and his household strolling by the Tees earlier than getting right into a automobile round lunch time on 12 April.
Lees mentioned: “I used to be a bit gobsmacked to see him, as a result of I do know what he seems to be like. And the remainder of the household appeared to match – a spouse and baby. I used to be fairly satisfied it was him and it didn’t appear proper as a result of I assumed he can be in London.”
He added: “I went house and informed my spouse, we thought he have to be in London. I searched up the quantity plate later that day and my laptop search historical past exhibits that.”
Requested if thought Cummings ought to resign, Lees, mentioned: “In fact he ought to. [Catherine] Calderwood [Scotland’s former chief medical officer] resigned after being silly by visiting her second house. [Government scientific adviser Prof Neil] Ferguson didn’t even go anyplace, it was his mistress, and he needed to resign too.
“They didn’t do something almost as irresponsible as Cummings. You don’t take the virus from one a part of the nation to a different. It simply beggars perception to suppose you can really drive when the recommendation was keep house, save lives. It couldn’t have been clearer.”
When Cummings was apparently recognised a second time on 19 April he was carrying his trademark beanie hat, and was heard commenting on how “pretty” the bluebells have been throughout an early morning Sunday stroll together with his spouse Mary Wakefield.
The second eyewitness, who declined to be named, mentioned: “We have been shocked and shocked to see him as a result of the final time we did was earlier within the week in Downing Road.”
Cummings had been photographed on the 14 April in Downing Road, the primary time he had been seen again at work since recovering from the virus.
“We thought ‘he’s not speculated to be right here throughout the lockdown’,” the supply mentioned.
“We thought: ‘What double requirements, one rule for him as a senior adviser to the prime minister and one other for the remainder of us.’”
At Saturday’s each day Downing Road press convention, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, mentioned Cummings’s actions, first revealed by the Guardian and Day by day Mirror, have been acceptable as a result of he and his household had remained in isolation after arriving on the property in Durham, quite than travelling away from the property. “The choice right here was to go to that location and keep in that location,” he mentioned. “They didn’t then transfer round from there.”
The deputy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries, mentioned the purpose of the recommendation on self-isolation was to stay “out of circulation”.
Shapps mentioned that the prime minister gave Cummings his full help. He added that he didn’t know when Boris Johnson turned conscious of the circumstances of Cummings’s resolution to go to Durham.
Requested whether or not Cummings’s declare that the police had not spoken to his household regardless of an official assertion on the contrary meant that Durham constabulary have been mendacity, he mentioned that he was “unsure the place the confusion in that is available in”.
Durham police are standing by their assertion on Friday that the Cummings household was reminded of the lockdown guidelines on 31 March, after he was seen within the metropolis.
No 10 insisted that the household weren’t spoken to, and Johnson’s chief adviser claimed he did nothing incorrect.
It got here as figures from the police, church, the well being service and the federal government’s personal science advisory group condemned Cummings’s actions and warned that it risked undermining public adherence to the lockdown. Downing Road has additionally been accused of a cover-up after preliminary studies that some in No 10 knew he had made the journey.
Final evening, Labour demanded a Whitehall inquiry into the journey. In a letter to cupboard secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, shadow cupboard workplace minister Rachel Reeves writes: “The British individuals don’t count on there to be one rule for them and one other rule for the Prime Minister’s most senior adviser.”
In the meantime, the cupboard’s most senior ministers have been accused of putting political loyalty over public well being, after they launched an orchestrated battle to defend Cummings. Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock, have been amongst these to defend the spin physician.
Ed Davey, performing chief of the Liberal Democrats, mentioned Cummings must be sacked, including: “It’s quite insulting to the hundreds of thousands who’ve made sacrifices to maintain to the federal government’s personal guidelines for cupboard ministers now to be prioritising the profession of Johnson’s spin doctor-in-chief above the general public’s well being and well-being.”
Nick Baines, the bishop of Leeds, informed the Observer: “Individuals have missed being with relations who’ve died. However, now we be taught that there’s one rule for the individuals and one other for No 10 and the elite. Ministers have clearly been informed to tweet help for Cummings. What worth conscience? Or integrity? Or credibility? Or competence at a time when management can solely be rooted in belief?”
Police warned that the allegations got here at an important second within the lockdown, with officers making an attempt to implement the principles throughout a sunny financial institution vacation. George Peretz QC, a public legislation barrister, additionally instructed Cummings might have breached legal guidelines put in place to implement the lockdown.
Downing Road declined to touch upon the brand new claims.
Gallery: Life below coronavirus lockdown all over the world (Pictures)
Keep at house as a lot as doable to cease coronavirus spreading – right here is the newest authorities steerage. In case you suppose you have got the virus, do not go to the GP or hospital, keep indoors and get recommendation on-line. Solely name NHS 111 when you can not cope together with your signs at house; your situation will get worse; or your signs don’t get higher after seven days. In components of Wales the place 111 is not accessible, name NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anybody with signs is suggested to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Eire, name your GP.
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