Retired chemistry teacher Robin Lees is said to have complained to Durham Police after spotting Boris Johnson’s chief adviser in the market town – which contains the ruins of a castle – on 12 April.
Making a spoof entry about a trip to Barnard Castle in April, one user wrote: “The bluebells in the local woods at this time of the year are a beautiful sight and worth commenting on – be careful though of strangers coughing in the woods.”
Another fake reviewer added: “I saw Benny from Crossroads. Who could miss him wearing that famous beanie hat. I felt so sorry for him though, he was coughing his guts up. I hope he was OK, it sounded quite bad.”
One Tripadvisor user joked: “You know when you’re feeling rough and all you want to do is stay indoors and do the right thing? Not me, I decided that despite me and the wife having a persistent dry cough … we should get out the house and do a quick 260-mile drive to this lovely place. It really blew away the cobwebs.”
Dozens more pastiche reviews have been left on Barnard Castle’s official Tripadvisor page in the past 24 hours – barely-concealed anger radiating through the mockery.
“I was amazed at how quiet the roads were and Durham itself,” one user wrote. “It was almost as if the country was in some sort of international pandemic induced lock down.”
Aside from Mr Lees’ complaint to Durham Police, Durham’s acting police and crime commissioner Steve White said he had written to chief constable Jo Farrell asking her “to establish the facts concerning any potential breach of the law or regulations in this matter at any juncture”.
Durham councillor Amanda Hopgood said she had also written to Durham Police’s chief constable Jo Farrell after being made aware of a number of alleged sightings of Mr Cummings in the area in April and May.
Mr Cummings is set to make a public statement later on Monday following calls for him to be sacked over allegations he breached lockdown restrictions.
The No 10 strategist is expected to take questions following the highly unusual address, as he faces sustained pressure from across the political spectrum to quit.