Number 10 has been accused of a “cover-up” after reports emerged key figures in Downing Street knew Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings allegedly broke lockdown rules.
Opposition parties want the prime minister to fire his chief adviser after he travelled more than 260 miles from his home in London to stay with his parents in Durham.
Cummings travelled with his wife, who was suffering from suspected coronavirus, and his son.
According to a joint investigation by the Guardian and Daily Mirror, Cummings was spotted twice in the North East over the course of almost a week, between March 31 and April 5 – eight days after lockdown began.
Police have confirmed they attended a property in County Durham.
The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, said there are “serious questions” for Johnson to answer over reports that members of his inner circle knew Cummings left London only days after the PM had issued strict instructions for people to stay at home and not to drive long distances – or else face punishment.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Blackford said: “What I find interesting is that (according to 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, not telling the public until the newspaper(s) broke the story, eight weeks later, last night.”
The Labour Party said the “country deserves answers” at the daily Downing Street press conference on Saturday.
Sir Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, has said Cummings should resign.
Cummings has said he behaved "reasonably and legally" by travelling to be with his family in Durham.
He told reporters outside his house: “Who cares about good looks? It’s a question of doing the right thing.
"It’s not about what you guys think.”
Number 10 has backed Cummings and said he did not break lockdown rules.
A Downing Street spokesman added: “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.
“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. 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.”
Steve White, Durham’s police and crime commissioner, said Cummings’ actions were unwise.
He told the BBC: “Given the whole ethos of the guidance and regulations was designed to reduce the spread, regardless of reason, by travelling to County Durham when known to be infected was most unwise”
Martyn Underhill, Dorset’s police and crime commissioner, said it would now be harder to enforce the lockdown rules.
He added: “Here’s a very high-profile person and it’s very unfortunate, the timing of this because, this is going to be the busiest weekend Dorset has seen this year.”
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