On Tuesday night it emerged Durham police have started their investigation into Dominic Cummings’ alleged breach of lockdown rules.
Officers interviewed a witness and have access to number plate recognition software which could track the movement of the aide’s car when he travelled to Durham, the Mirror and Guardian reported.
It came as questions emerged over the account Mr Cummings gave during his Downing Street press conference.
Trip to Barnard Castle
Dominic Cummings said he drove 60 miles from Durham to Barnard Castle and back on Sunday April 12 to "test his eyesight" before making the long trip south to London. It was the fifteenth day since he first developed coronavirus symptoms but he said his vision had been “a bit weird”.
It was his wife’s birthday, and the couple, along with their young son stopped and walked to a riverbank on the outskirts of the market town where they sat for 15 minutes, where Mr Cummings said he “felt a bit sick” and then “felt better”.
The Government guidance over the Easter weekend was still to stay at home, with exceptions made for buying essentials, going to work if you could not work from home and exercising.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said that the National Police Chiefs Council had relaxed the rules around driving “a reasonable distance “to exercise, which they had. At no point did Mr Cummings say that he had stopped to exercise. Not only does this appear to be a breach of the lockdown rules, but Mr Cummings may have also broken the Highway Code.
Ex-Greater Manchester Police chief constable Sir Peter Fahy told BBC Radio 4: “It certainly appears to be against the Highway Code. It's not the way to test your eyesight, and put potentially other people in danger.”
John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales wrote on Twitter: “If you're feeling unwell and your eyesight may be impaired do not drive your vehicle to test your ability to drive.”
On the way back to Durham, the family made another stop near some woodland, where his son went to the toilet and then “played for a little bit”.
On Monday Dominic Cummings said he went back into 10 Downing Street hours after visiting his wife, Mary Wakefield,who had felt “badly ill”.
That evening Mr Cummings said of his wife: “She was ill, she might have Covid though she did not have a cough or a fever” when describing his reason for then driving his family to Durham.
His statement led to questions over whether Mr Cummings broke guidelines by returning to work that day.
On Tuesday, Michael Gove insisted this was not the case, because Ms Wakefield did not have the two main coronavirus symptoms.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Gove said: "It is the case that while Mary was ill, it was not the case she had Covid-19 symptoms. She did not have fever or persistent cough.
"The guidance was clear that if people are displaying symptoms then the household should isolate. But it is important to draw distinction between symptoms of Covid-19 and other ill-health."
Driving back to London
Mr Cummings said he drove to the market town of Barnard Castle on Easter Sunday, to "test his eyesight" before deciding to make the long trip back to London.
The next day he felt well enough to make the 260-mile drive to London before returning to work.
Asked whether he should have made the journey without the test run, Mr Cummings said: “I mean, perhaps you're right and we should just have cracked on and tried to do the whole trip.”
Questions were raised over why Ms Wakefield could not drive the family back to London instead of having to make the test trip to Barnard Castle. Past articles written by Ms Wakefield emerged, which showed she can drive.
During the night of Thursday April 2, Mr Cummings said his child woke up, vomited and had a bad fever.
The couple took medical advice and called 999. An ambulance arrived to take the young boy to hospital around four miles away, but Mr Cummings said he was too ill to travel and “could barely stand up”.
“My wife travelled with him in the ambulance. I stayed at home,” he said.
Mr Cummings’ son stayed the night in the hospital with his mother, but was told he could return home the following morning.
Both his wife and son had coronavirus symptoms but it is not clear if ambulance and hospital staff knew this when they arrived.
A spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service said: “We do not comment on individual cases.
“Our crews are provided with personal protective equipment when responding to 999 calls which includes an apron, gloves, mask and eye protection. When a patient with suspected Covid-19 has been inside a vehicle, our crews will deep clean the ambulance thoroughly, using specialist chemicals, before signing-on to be available to attend the next incident.
“Upon arrival at hospital, patients will be assessed by hospital staff to determine where they should be taken. All hospitals have designated areas for symptomatic and non-symptomatic patients to receive treatment in the safest possible way and to also reduce the risk of spreading infection.”
A few days later the hospital called the family to say the boy had tested negative for Covid.
Past account of isolation
On April 23 Ms Wakefield wrote a lengthy piece in the Spectator magazine describing the period when she and her husband were self-isolating. Mr Cummings also wrote a piece in the same edition about his experiences. Neither mentioned driving to Durham nor the trip to Barnard Castle.
Ms Wakefield’s account described how ill Mr Cummings was, writing that he was bedridden for 10 days and struggled to breathe after catching coronavirus
She wrote: “Dom couldn’t get out of bed. Day in, day out for 10 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.”
However this account appears at odds with Mr Cummings’ statement, in which he said he picked his son up from hospital five days after he became ill.
The Prime Minister’s aide said on Monday: “There were no taxis. I drove to the hospital, picked him up, then returned home.”