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Boris Johnson is under intense pressure to sack Dominic Cummings

Timeline of Cummings’ lockdown row 

March 23: As the coronavirus crisis escalates, the UK is placed into lockdown with strict limitations on travel.

The Government guidelines state: ‘You should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home.’

Those in a household with symptoms must ‘stay at home and not leave the house’ for up to 14 days. 

March 27: Both Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock test positive for coronavirus, while chief medical officer Chris Whitty says he has symptoms of the disease and is self-isolating.

March 30: Downing Street confirms Mr Cummings is suffering from coronavirus symptoms and is self-isolating.

March 31: Durham police are ‘made aware of reports that an individual had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city’.

The force said officers ‘made contact with the owners of that address who confirmed that the individual in question was present and was self-isolating in part of the house.

‘In line with national policing guidance, officers explained to the family the arrangements around self-isolation guidelines and reiterated the appropriate advice around essential travel.’

April 5: An unnamed neighbour tells the Mirror and the Guardian Mr Cummings was seen in his parents’ garden .

‘I got the shock of my life as I looked over to the gates and saw him,’ they said. 

March 30 – April 6: The period Mr Cummings’ wife Mary Wakefield describes the family’s battle with coronavirus in the April 25 issue of the Spectator.

She makes no mention of the trip to Durham and describes the challenges of caring for their son while suffering the symptoms of Covid-19.

She says their small son nursed Mr Cummings with Ribena. 

April 14: Mr Cummings returns to work for the first time since news he was suffering from Coronavirus emerged.

Questions are raised about his adherence to social distancing advice as he is photographed walking down Downing Street with fellow aide Cleo Watson.

May 22: News breaks in the Mirror and the Guardian of Mr Cummings’ trip to Durham.

May 23: Downing Street stands by the PM’s chief aide, saying in a statement: ‘Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.’  

Dominic Cummings came out fighting today over claims he flouted lockdown rules – insisting he had behaved ‘reasonable and legally’.

The maverick No10 chief travelled with his wife and son from London to his parents’ Durham farm in March to self-isolate with coronavirus symptoms, despite the government’s own restrictions banning non-essential journeys. 

He was spotted by a witness at the gate of the property, with Abba’s Dancing Queen playing loudly.  

But challenged by reporters this afternoon whether his actions looked bad, a defiant Mr Cummings said ‘who cares about good looks’.

‘It’s a question of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you guys think.’

He also berated photographers for not following social distancing rules by staying two metres apart.

In a statement earlier, a No10 spokesman said Mr Cummings had not broken any guidelines with the 264-mile trip.

‘Owing to his wife being infected with suspected Coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for,’ the spokesman said. 

‘His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed. His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside. 

Although Durham police has confirmed the family was given advice on lockdown rules, the statement added: ‘At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported. His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.’ 

Amid a concerted Tory effort to shore up the key aide, Cabinet minister Michael Gove, Mr Cummings’ former boss, tweeted: ‘Caring for your wife and child is not a crime.’ Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Matt Hancock also offered backing.

Allies pointed to a comment from deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries on March 24, when she was asked what parents should do if both fall ill. ‘A small child is vulnerable. If adults cannot look after the child, that is an exceptional circumstance,’ Dr Harries said.

However, the government guidance said that those self-isolating ‘must stay at home and not leave the house’, as well as ‘staying away’ from vulnerable elderly people. In an account of their ordeal published last month, Mr Cummings’ journalist wife Mary Wakefield also described how he was nursed by their small son with Ribena – suggesting he stayed with them throughout. The PM’s official spokesman told reporters at the time that Mr Cummings was isolating ‘at home’. 

The bombshell revelations sparked accusations of hypocrisy with Mr Cummings’ position branded ‘untenable’, and signs of disquiet among Tory MPs. 

A Labour Party spokesman said: ‘The lockdown rules were very clear: if you or anyone in your household was suspected of having Covid-19 you must immediately self-isolate and not leave the house. However, the Prime Minister’s Chief Adviser appears to believe that it is one rule for him and another for the British people.

‘This will cause understandable anger for the millions of people who have sacrificed so much during this crisis.

‘We are still unclear who knew about this decision and when, whether this was sanctioned by the Prime Minister and whether Number 10 is now questioning the validity of the statement from Durham Police.’  

SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford told BBC Radio 4’s Today that there seemed to have been a ‘cover up’ and Mr Cummings ‘should have gone by now’. 








Challenged by reporters at his London home this afternoon whether his actions looked bad, a defiant Dominic Cummings said 'who cares about good looks'

Challenged by reporters at his London home this afternoon whether his actions looked bad, a defiant Dominic Cummings said ‘who cares about good looks’

Dominic Cummings was fighting for his political life today as pressure mounted on Boris Johnson to sack his chief adviser for flouting lockdown rules (duo pictured in September)

Dominic Cummings was fighting for his political life today as pressure mounted on Boris Johnson to sack his chief adviser for flouting lockdown rules (duo pictured in September)

Dominic Cummings and wife Mary Wakefield, who wrote about her husband's coronavirus battle

Dominic Cummings and wife Mary Wakefield, who wrote about her husband’s coronavirus battle 

Neighbours were 'shocked' to see the 48-year-old in the North East a few days after he was seen in Westminster (pictured running) and announced to be isolating with Covid-19 symptoms

Neighbours were ‘shocked’ to see the 48-year-old in the North East a few days after he was seen in Westminster (pictured running) and announced to be isolating with Covid-19 symptoms

The Downing Street aide is claimed to have travelled from London to his parents’ home in Durham in March

Dorset police and crime commissioner Martyn Underhill warned this morning that the breach will be thrown in the face of officers as they tried to restrain sun-seeking visitors on what is expected to be a hot bank holiday weekend. 

But sources close to Mr Cummings claimed there is ‘zero chance’ of him resigning. 

High-profile resignations of architects of the lockdown who flouted rules, such as Prof Neil Fergurson and Scotland chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood, have paved a precedent for Mr Cummings to quit. 

There has been little sympathy from Britons wrestling with equally difficult situations during the health crisis, who are expected by the government to stick to the measures.    

Mr Underhill said the furore would inevitably be cited by people flocking to beauty spots and beaches in Dorset this weekend. 

‘It is unfortunate the timing of this as it is going to be the busiest weekend Dorset has seen this year,’ he said.  

Mr Blackford told Today: ‘I think what should have happened by now is that Dominic Cummings should have gone.

‘What I find interesting…is that (according to some reports) members of Downing Street knew about this so, first and foremost, Boris Johnson has serious questions to answer over what now appears to be a cover-up. The Prime Minister must explain exactly when he knew about the breaking of the rules, whether he sanctioned it, why Cummings wasn’t sacked immediately and why it appears that he tried to cover it up.’

Acting Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey tweeted: ‘If Dominic Cummings has broken the lockdown guidelines he will have to resign. It’s as simple as that.’  

SNP MP Angus MacNeil tweeted: ‘Dominic Cummings will survive this …not a monkeys do they give about their public at Downing Street.’  

What were the rules when Cummings ‘broke’ lockdown? 

When Boris Johnson introduced the UK lockdown he gave ‘a very simple instruction – you must stay at home’. 

The rules, announced in a speech the PM made to the nation on March 23, stated that people would only be allowed to leave the house for limited purposes.

These were shopping for basics, one form of exercise a day, travelling to and from work, but only where absolutely necessary, and medical needs.

Reinforcing the message, he said people should not meet family members who do not live with them. 

The official guidance at the time said: ‘You should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home.

‘You should keep in touch with them using phone or video calls.’

Only in exceptional circumstances were people allowed to attend relatives’ addresses; for example, to drop off food or medicine to their door. 

The guidance issued by the government also gave specific instructions to those in households with coronavirus symptoms. 

Dominic Cummings’ wife Mary Wakefield came down with symptoms first, before he developed them shortly afterwards.

The rules state that the first person in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus ‘must stay at home for at least 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days’.  

‘For anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for at least 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period,’ the guidance states.

The guidance does not specifically refer to childcare, but says: ‘If you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period.’ 

Tory aides who have felt the wrath of Mr Cummings were also withering about his controversy. 

‘Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,’ one told MailOnline. ‘But I’m sure they won’t concede him.’ 

Another agreed that Mr Cummings would not go. ‘He’s too needed,’ they said. ‘Who else will be willing to fulfill the role he’s created?’ 

Former Conservative MP David Liddington, who was de facto deputy PM under Theresa May, said the news raised serious questions.

He told BBC Newsnight: ‘There’s clearly serious questions that No 10 are going to have to address not least because the readiness of members of the public to follow government guidance more generally is going to be affected by this sort of story.’

But Mr Raab said today: ‘It’s reasonable and fair to ask for an explanation on this.

‘And it has been provided: two parents with coronavirus, were anxiously taking care of their young child.

‘Those now seeking to politicise it should take a long hard look in the mirror.’  

A close friend of Mr Cummings said overnight: ‘He isn’t remotely bothered by this story, it’s more fake news from the Guardian. 

‘There is zero chance of him resigning.’  

Durham’s acting police and crime commissioner sadi Mr Cummings’ journey from London to County Durham was ‘most unwise’.

In a statement, Steve White said: ‘Given the whole ethos of the guidance and regulations issued from the Government was to reduce the spread, regardless of reason, by travelling to County Durham when known to be infected was most unwise.

‘To beat this crisis we need to be selfless as millions have been. The response by the people of County Durham and Darlington have been exemplary, which makes this most frustrating and concerning.’

Mr White, a former head of the Police Federation in England and Wales, added: ‘Incidents such as this do not help, and I can appreciate that the longer this goes on the harder it gets, but I encourage the people of County Durham and Darlington to keep up the outstanding effort seen so far by using common sense when following the guidance to stay alert and continue to social distance.’

Neighbours were ‘shocked’ to see him in the North East a few days after he was pictured in Westminster and announced to be isolating with Covid-19 symptoms.

His wife, the journalist Mary Wakefield, wrote about his struggle with the disease and suggested he was holed up at their London residence, as did the Prime Minister’s spokesperson at the time.

But last night a Mirror and Guardian investigation revealed that he was quizzed for breaching lockdown curbs restricting travel. 

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said: ‘On Tuesday, March 31, our officers were made aware of reports that an individual had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city. 

‘Officers made contact with the owners of that address who confirmed that the individual in question was present and was self-isolating in part of the house. 

‘In line with national policing guidance, officers explained to the family the guidelines around self-isolation and reiterated the appropriate advice around essential travel.’  

The government was still putting out information telling people not to visit the home of friends and family today

The government was still putting out information telling people not to visit the home of friends and family today








Cummings’ wife spoke of coronavirus ordeal – but didn’t mention the family went to Durnham 

Dominic Cummings’ wife Mary Wakefield gave an account of their experience with coronavirus in a Spectator article and BBC appearance.

But the journalist did not mention that the family relocated to Durham for childcare for their son.   

Ms Wakefield said her husband ‘rushed home’ after she became ill. ‘But 24 hours later he said ”I feel weird”.’ 

She went on: ‘Day in, day out for ten days he lay doggo with a high fever and spasms that made the muscles lump and twitch in his legs. He could breathe, but only in a limited, shallow way.

‘After a week, we reached peak corona uncertainty. Day six is a turning point, I was told: that’s when you either get better or head for ICU. 

‘But was Dom fighting off the bug or was he heading for a ventilator? Who knew? I sat on his bed staring at his chest, trying to count his breaths per minute. 

‘The little oxygen reader we’d bought on Amazon indicated that he should be in hospital, but his lips weren’t blue and he could talk in full sentences, such as: ‘Please stop staring at my chest, sweetheart.’

The neighbour, who did not want to give their name, told the Mirror: ‘I got the shock of my life. There was a child, presumably his little boy, running around in front. I recognised Dominic Cummings, he’s a very distinctive figure. 

‘I was really annoyed. I thought ‘it’s OK for you to drive all the way up to Durham and escape from London’. 

‘I sympathise with him wanting to do that but other people are not allowed to do that. It’s one rule for Dominic Cummings and one rule for the rest of us.’ 

On April 14, the aide was pictured back in Westminster for the first time since his coronavirus recovery.   

Mr Cummings was not slapped with the £60 fine for breaching the rules, which were ushered in on March 26.

They stated: ‘You should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home. 

‘The only exception is if they need help, such as having shopping or medication dropped off.’

The day after these curbs were enforced, on March 27, Mr Cummings raised eyebrows when he was pictured sprinting along Downing Street after it was announced that Mr Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had tested positive for coronavirus.

On March 30, news broke that the aide was self-isolating with Covid-19 symptoms, and the PM’s spokesperson later confirmed he was ‘at home’. 

The PM’s official spokesman told journalists: ‘I think he’s in touch with No10 but he is at home, he is self-isolating, he has some symptoms.’ 

Several days later, on April 5, Mr Cummings allegedly remained at the property in Durham and was spotted by a neighbour of Mr Cummings’ parents, Robert, 73, and Morag, 71.

They claimed they spotted him outside the property while passing for their daily exercise and heard Abba’s Dancing Queen playing loudly.

The neighbour saw the political aide, wearing a scarf and coat, and with a small boy running around, believed to be his son.   

The revelations have stirred up fury and political rivals lined up to accuse Mr Cummings of hypocrisy and demand he resign

Piers Morgan vows to break lockdown unless Cummings is sacked 

Piers Morgan has issued an angry ultimatum to Boris Johnson over claims his chief aide Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules by visiting his parents.

‘If Boris doesn’t fire Cummings today, then I will deem the Lockdown over & drive down to see my parents (from a 2m distance) for the first time in 12 weeks. I’m not having one rule for these clowns & another for the rest of us,’ The Good Morning Britain star posted on Twitter.

Mr Cummings stands accused of breaking Government rules by travelling hundreds of miles to his parents’ home in Durham from his home in London while he and his wife were said to be isolating because of coronavirus symptoms.

This morning Mr Cummings told reporters his visit was about ‘doing the right thing’, after Number 10 said he acted ‘reasonably and legally’ at the time.

When he returned to work, Mr Cummings’ wife, an editor at The Spectator, wrote about their experience of self-isolating in lockdown. 

In the same issue of The Spectator, Mr Cummings wrote: ‘At the end of March and for the first two weeks of April I was ill, so we were both shut in together.’ 

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick clung on to his cabinet job following revelations he had travelled from London to his country home. 

Mr Jenrick was also criticised for travelling 150 miles from his London property to his Herefordshire home from where he travelled to his parents in Shropshire.

However, he defended his actions, saying he went to deliver food and medicine to his isolating parents.

This month Professor Neil Ferguson quit as a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) after it was revealed his girlfriend had been visiting him during lockdown. 

Scotland Yard criticised his behaviour as ‘plainly disappointing’ but ruled out issuing a fine because he ‘has taken responsibility’ after resigning as a key Government adviser in the coronavirus response. 

Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, also quit after making two trips to her second home during lockdown.

Despite Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backing Dr Calderwood to remain in her position, she ultimately decided to relinquish her role so as not to be a ‘distraction’ from the Government’s social-distancing message. 

Mr Cummings was is a long-serving political aide who has garnered a reputation as a maverick in Westminster.

He made waves as a special adviser to then Education Secretary Michael Gove, who locked horns with teachers he referred to as the ‘blob’.

The arch-Brexiteer masterminded the Vote Leave victory in the 2016 referendum, but was quickly cast into the political wilderness when Theresa May became premier.

Neighbours in Durham split over No10 chief’s lockdown visit 

The property where Mr Cummings is understood to have travelled 260 miles to with his family is a stone cottage with a separate building to the rear. 

The period house, to the south of the historic city of Durham, is positioned in a rural setting, surrounded by trees and farmland, but on a busy main road. 

One neighbour described how a big sign saying ‘Brexit means Brexit’ was on display for a time on family owned land in the area. 

The substantial home, which is estimated to be worth around £695,000, appears to have separate accommodation at the back. 

The average price of a house in Durham is just £193,000. 

Some locals reacted angrily to the news the political advisor had apparently broken lockdown rules. 

However, others remained defiant, and spoke in support of the 48-year-old. Amanda Fay, 46, a company director, a neighbour of the parents of Dominic Cummings, said: ‘He is an idiot, it’s a joke, it is unfair. 

‘I don’t know why he should be allowed to travel. ‘How can it be for childcare? How is that possible? He is staying with elderly parents as well which is obviously putting them at risk. 

‘Considering he also had symptoms that makes it even worse, even more shocking. ‘It’s as though he can do whatever he wants. He is putting people in Durham at risk. Why should he not get reprimanded for it? 

‘I agree with a lot of people, he should resign. Why make rules you can’t abide by?’ 

Another neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, defended him and said: ‘I never saw him in person. ‘But I am sure he behaved perfectly while he was here. 

‘I think it is entirely reasonable, if it’s an emergency, I don’t see any reason to get up tight.’  

He returned to government in 2019 as Mr Johnson’s most senior adviser in Downing Street. 

The property where Mr Cummings is understood to have travelled 260 miles to with his family is a stone cottage with a separate building to the rear. 

The period house, to the south of the historic city of Durham, is positioned in a rural setting, surrounded by trees and farmland, but on a busy main road. 

One neighbour described how a big sign saying ‘Brexit means Brexit’ was on display for a time on family owned land in the area. 

The substantial home, which is estimated to be worth around £695,000, appears to have separate accommodation at the back. 

The average price of a house in Durham is just £193,000. 

Some locals reacted angrily to the news the political advisor had apparently broken lockdown rules. 

However, others remained defiant, and spoke in support of the 48-year-old. Amanda Fay, 46, a company director, a neighbour of the parents of Dominic Cummings, said: ‘He is an idiot, it’s a joke, it is unfair. 

‘I don’t know why he should be allowed to travel. ‘How can it be for childcare? How is that possible? He is staying with elderly parents as well which is obviously putting them at risk. 

‘Considering he also had symptoms that makes it even worse, even more shocking. ‘It’s as though he can do whatever he wants. He is putting people in Durham at risk. Why should he not get reprimanded for it? 

‘I agree with a lot of people, he should resign. Why make rules you can’t abide by?’ 

Another neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, defended him and said: ‘I never saw him in person. ‘But I am sure he behaved perfectly while he was here. 

‘I think it is entirely reasonable, if it’s an emergency, I don’t see any reason to get up tight.’  

Who are the other high-profile figures accused of breaking the lockdown?

Neil Ferguson

Antonia Staats

Dr Catherine Calderwood

Stephen Kinnock

Professor Neil Ferguson (left) quit SAGE after meeting his ‘lover’ Antonia Staats (second left) at his home; Scotland chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood (second from right) resigned after twice breaking lockdown restrictions in order to visit her second home; Labour MP Stephen  Kinnock (right) was publicly shamed by police after travelling to London to celebrate his father’s birthday

Professor Neil Ferguson

The scientist, whose research helped usher in the lockdown, resigned from his role as a key Government adviser after admitting that he had undermined social distancing rules by reportedly meeting his ‘lover’ Antonia Staats at his home.

Scotland Yard criticised his behaviour as ‘plainly disappointing’ but ruled out issuing a fine because he ‘has taken responsibility’ after resigning as a key Government adviser in the coronavirus response.

Dr Catherine Calderwood

Scotland’s chief medical officer resigned in April after twice breaking lockdown restrictions in order to visit her second home, which was located more than an hour away from her main residence in Edinburgh.

Despite Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backing Dr Calderwood to remain in her position, she ultimately decided to relinquish her role so as not to be a ‘distraction’ from the Government’s social-distancing message.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick

Robert Jenrick

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary was forced to explain himself after travelling more than an hour to visit his parents despite warning people to remain at home.

Mr Jenrick was also criticised for travelling 150 miles from his London property to his Herefordshire home from where he travelled to his parents in Shropshire.

However, he defended his actions, saying he went to deliver food and medicine to his isolating parents.

Stephen Kinnock

The MP for Aberavon in South Wales was publicly shamed by police after travelling to London to celebrate his father’s birthday.

After Mr Kinnock posted a photo on Twitter of himself practising social distancing with his parents outside their home, South Wales Police replied: ‘We know celebrating your Dad’s birthday is a lovely thing to do, however this is not essential travel. We all have our part to play in this, we urge you to comply with (lockdown) restrictions, they are in place to keep us all safe. Thank you.’

 

From Vote Leave to Team Boris: The rise of Dominic Cummings, the political maverick accused of breaking lockdown rules

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior aide Dominic Cummings has allegedly been caught breaking lockdown rules by visiting his parents’ home in Durham while he was recovering from Covid-19.

Mr Cummings rose to notoriety in politics, first as an adviser to Michael Gove and then as campaign director at the official Brexit group Vote Leave.

He was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in a Channel 4 drama about the Brexit campaign, which played up his role in covering a red bus with the disputed £350 million a week figure, arguing the cash could be used to fund the NHS.

Mr Cummings, a hate figure for many pro-EU politicians, said the £350 million/NHS argument was ‘necessary to win’ the campaign.

Mr Johnson appointed Mr Cummings to his top team as senior adviser at Number 10 when he became Prime Minister in the summer of 2019

Mr Johnson appointed Mr Cummings to his top team as senior adviser at Number 10 when he became Prime Minister in the summer of 2019

Mr Johnson appointed Mr Cummings to his top team as senior adviser at Number 10 when he became Prime Minister in the summer of 2019.

The appointment of the abrasive former campaign director was controversial, given he was found to be in contempt of Parliament earlier in the year for refusing to give evidence to MPs investigating misinformation.

Mr Cummings has built a reputation as someone who does not play by the rules of conventional politics.

He was once called a ‘career psychopath’ by former prime minister David Cameron, according to widely reported remarks.

But Mr Cummings is no stranger to an insult either, describing David Davis, then the Brexit secretary, as ‘thick as mince, lazy as a toad and vain as Narcissus’ in July 2017.

Mr Cummings rose to notoriety in politics, first as an adviser to Michael Gove and then as campaign director at the official Brexit group Vote Leave

Mr Cummings rose to notoriety in politics, first as an adviser to Michael Gove and then as campaign director at the official Brexit group Vote Leave 

The December 2019 election victory gave Mr Johnson the political capital he needed to take bold decisions – and Mr Cummings soon set to work on his goal of reshaping Whitehall, issuing a recruitment call for data scientists, economists and ‘weirdos and misfits with odd skills’ to shake up the Civil Service.

In April, it was revealed Mr Cummings has also been present at meetings co-ordinating the response to the coronavirus pandemic as part of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

This raised concerns over a lack of breadth in expertise of the meetings and political interference in science-based advice.

Mr Cummings had previously been observed failing to follow the two-metre social distancing rules as he walked along Downing Street flanked by fellow aide Cleo Watson on April 14.  

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