Dominic Cummings Durham eyewitness: 'I have some regrets – but I feel vindicated'

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Dominic Cummings answers questions from the media on Bank Holiday Monday. (PA)

The eyewitness to Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham has spoken about how he has some regrets about reporting it – but still believes the information needed to be made public.

Retired chemistry teacher Robin Lees told BBC Radio Newcastle he felt vindicated when the Downing Street adviser admitted in his extraordinary news conference that he had visited Barnard Castle during the coronavirus lockdown.

Lees said the reaction after he spoke to The Guardian about what he thought he had seen on Easter Sunday – Cummings in the market town with his wife and son – had been "pretty awful”.

Asked if he regretted speaking out, he told the BBC: "In some ways. I just feel it was right for what I saw to be in the public domain.

Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home as the row over the Durham trip taken by Boris Johnson's top aide continues. (PA)

"I had seen that and I didn't think I should keep it to myself.”

Lees said he recognised Cummings because he took an interest in politics.

After seeing the family group, Lees went home and checked online and saw Cummings had a son around the age of the child he had seen.

He recalled the number plate of the car because it was "quite easy" to remember, checked online and thought it was not local to County Durham, then put the issue out of his mind.

Lees told the BBC: "When the Guardian story broke, I thought, 'Goodness me, that must be the person I saw’."

He then contacted the Guardian journalist to tell him what he had seen.

Lees said he watched Cummings' explanation of events at the news conference on Bank Holiday Monday.

"I felt vindicated," he said.

Dominic Cummings faces calls for him to be sacked over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (PA)

"I didn't know if they would have mentioned it [the Barnard Castle journey] if I hadn't said that.”

Lees said he did not recall briefly speaking to Cummings' wife, adding: "I wouldn't have to look up on my computer to see if it was Easter Sunday if they had wished me happy Easter.

"Perhaps I am not so good at hearing as I am at observing.”

Asked what it was like to be at the centre of a political storm, he said: "It's not particularly pleasant, especially some of the things that I have read."

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