Boris Johnson’s controversial aide Dominic Cummings is back in the headlines – this time for travelling more than 260 miles to Durham during the lockdown.
Mr Cummings says he made the journey for childcare purposes. Here is the timeline of events around his trip.
-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.”
-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.
The Guardian approaches Downing Street about the story, only to be told by a spokesman: “It will be a no comment on that one.”
-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.
“This might be my only really useful advice for other double-Covid parents or single mothers with pre-schoolers: get out the doctor’s kit and make it your child’s job to take your temperature.
“Any game that involves lying down is a good game.”
–April 10: Number 10 is again contacted for comment regarding Mr Cumming’s trip by the Guardian. Instead of defending the journey, officials declined to comment.
-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.
Guardian front page, Saturday 23 May 2020: Police spoke to Cummings about lockdown breach pic.twitter.com/zj3VGq4YXP
— The Guardian (@guardian) May 22, 2020
-May 23: Downing Street appears to be standing 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.”
The statement said: “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.”
Speaking outside his home, Mr Cummings reiterated: “I behaved reasonably and legally”.
When a reporter suggested to him that his actions did not look good, he replied: “Who cares about good looks?
“It’s a question of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you guys think.”
Later at the daily Downing Street briefing, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Mr Cummings had the PM’s “full support” and that Mr Johnson “knew that he was unwell and that he was in lockdown”.
Mr Shapps said it had always been permissible for families to travel to be closer to their relatives as long as they “go to that location and stay in that location”.
Meanwhile, deputy chief medical officer for England, Dr Jenny Harries, said that travelling during lockdown was permissible if “there was an extreme risk to life”, with a “safeguarding clause” attached to all advice to prevent vulnerable people being stuck at home with no support.
In a new statement released on Saturday evening, Durham Police said that on March 31 it was made aware Mr Cummings was present at an address in the city.
The force added that the following morning an officer spoke with Mr Cummings’ father at his own request, who confirmed his son had travelled with his family to the North East and was “self-isolating in part of the property”.
It said the force “deemed that no further action was required. However, the officer did provide advice in relation to security issues”.
In another evening statement, a No 10 spokeswoman accused the Mirror and Guardian of writing “inaccurate” stories about Mr Cummings.
This included claims that Mr Cummings had returned to Durham after returning to work in Downing Street on April 14.
“We will not waste our time answering a stream of false allegations about Mr Cummings from campaigning newspapers,” the spokeswoman said.