He is the most powerful unelected figure in government, but the future of Dominic Cummings as Boris Johnson’s indispensable Svengali could rest in the hands of a retired chemistry teacher.
Robin Lees and his walk in Barnard Castle on April 12 could be crucial to forcing the Prime Minister’s hand despite his amazing defense of his friend, adviser and enforcer last night.
The Durham local claims he saw someone who “looked” like Mr. Cummings in the town of Teesdale, 30 miles from Durham, that day, and the “signature” license plate he removed matches Mr. Cummings’ car .
Cummings, 47, admits to taking his wife Mary Wakefield and four-year-old son 260 miles north to his family’s London farm in late March, when she was suffering from coronavirus symptoms.
The reasons given ranged from fear of childcare to the death of his uncle, but Johnson said last night that he acted “with integrity” and “as any father would do.”
But he and Downing Street remain silent about an alleged trip during his northern isolation for a walk in the picturesque village on April 12 – his wife’s 45th birthday.
Mr. Cummings flatly denied every second trip north in April, despite claiming that he walked through the remote bluebell glades of Houghall in Country Durham on April 19 – after being seen working again in London.
Critics say the first admitted trip north, when police spoke to Mr. Cummings’ father, broke the shutdown, something Downing Street disputes.
The trip to Barnard Castle and the second trip north later in April – when none of the family were ill – both seem to be clear violations of the rules followed by millions of British people.
If proven irrefutably, they would even still be kind – or at least silent – that Tories has no choice but to claim his head, otherwise he will lie to the prime minister.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was sent out today to defeat the government and Mr Cummings.
His comments in interviews today left Mr. Johnson free to assist him as more disclosures came to light refuting his version of events.
Williamson told BBC Today’s Radio program that it was his “understanding” that “Dominic Cummings made it absolutely clear that there was only one trip to Durham.”
“I haven’t had a conversation with Dominic Cummings. The Prime Minister had an extensive discussion with Dominic Cummings yesterday – he held a press conference yesterday, “he added.
“He made it absolutely clear during the press conference that Dominic Cummings had assured him that no rules or laws had been broken, but I don’t have more details than that.”
When asked if he knew whether Mr Cummings left the house during his isolation in Durham, Mr Williamson said: “As the Prime Minister said yesterday, Dominic Cummings has acted in accordance with the rules at every stage.
“He obeyed the rules, he obeyed the law and the Prime Minister said that yesterday.”
Mr. Cummings (pictured today in London) flatly denied every second trip north in April when none of his family was ill
Robin Lees says that on April 12 he saw someone here in Barnard Castle who looked like Mister Cummings, and that the ‘signature’ license plate he removed matches Mister Cummings’ car
Mr. Cummings flatly denied every second trip north in April, despite claiming that he walked through the secluded glades of Houghall (pictured) in Country Durham on April 19.
Williamson told BBC Today’s Radio program that it was his “understanding” that “Dominic Cummings made it absolutely clear that there was only one trip to Durham.”
Never before has an unelected government advisor been so powerful – and divisive.
Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s right-hand man and self-proclaimed architect of Brexit, has already been featured in a Benedict Cumberbatch TV movie and was the subject of a BBC documentary this year.
He seems to be enjoying his reputation as a ‘dark puppeteer’ – complete with his shabby clothes, abrupt tone and contempt for the press. But for many, revelations that he may have broken lockdown rules are a controversial step too far. Here the Mail analyzes the allegations against him.
The day Britain was incarcerated. Boris Johnson told the British to leave the house for only one of the following four reasons: shopping for essentials, exercising once a day, traveling to and from work where it was “ absolutely necessary ” or getting medical or care needs.
Those who had symptoms of coronavirus were told to stay at home for at least seven days. Other members of that household were told to isolate themselves for 14 days.
The government has its message “Stay home. Protect the NHS. Saving Lives ”- allegedly written with the help of Mr Cummings.
March 27: Dominic Cummings is pictured walking down Downing Street on the day that Mr. Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock test positive for coronavirus
Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock test positive for coronavirus, while medical director Chris Whitty says he has symptoms of the disease and isolates himself.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has told the BBC that he thinks Mr Cummings was last seen on Downing Street the same day and speculates that he may have traveled on 27 or 28.
Such a move would greatly contradict the leadership of the government, as Mr. Cummings could have cared for his young child in London while his wife recovered.
This was also the day when Mr. Cummings saw Downing Street sprint.
Downing Street confirms that Mr. Cummings suffers from coronavirus symptoms and isolates himself.
Parental home: the house of Cummings’ parents in Durham, 260 miles away, which he visited during the closing
When asked about Mr. Cummings’ health, the prime minister’s official spokesperson tells reporters, “He’s in touch with number 10, but he’s at home, he’s isolating himself, he’s having some symptoms.”
The same day, Durham police are “notified of reports that a person had traveled from London to Durham and was at an address in the city.”
Police say the officers “contacted the owners of that address, who confirmed that the person in question was present and isolated themselves in part of the house.”
“In accordance with national police guidance, officers explained the arrangements for self-isolation guidelines to the family and repeated appropriate advice on essential travel.”
Mr Cummings insisted that the trip to Durham was necessary for his son’s well-being. The boy would probably have contracted a mild version of the disease, if at all, by staying with his parents.
In contrast, Mr. Cummings’ aged parents were at much greater risk of contracting a serious and potentially lethal form of Covid-19, making his actions all the more reckless. Family friends have pointed out that his wife, Mary Wakefield, has a brother, Jack, who lives in London with his own young son. She also has a half-brother, Max, who lives in the capital.
It has also been suggested that it might have been more sensible for a family member to travel from Durham South to help the Cummings.
At around 5:45 p.m., an unnamed neighbor saw him with his son in his parents’ yard – with Abba’s Dancing Queen in the background.
The neighbor said, “I got the shock of my life. I was really annoyed. I thought, “It’s okay to drive all the way to Durham and escape from London.” It’s one line for Dominic Cummings and one line for the rest of us. ‘
In response to questions last week, No10 said that Mr. Cummings had traveled to Durham because his sister and nieces volunteered to take care of his four-year-old son.
Over the weekend, Deputy Chief Physician Dr. Jenny Harries said that travel during closing is allowed as “there is an extreme danger to life” with a “protection clause” to prevent vulnerable people from getting stuck at home without support. She added that a small child can be considered vulnerable.
But instead of Mr. Cummings’s son staying with other family members, he was actually with his parents in a farm next to the main house. The food was left by Mr. Cummings’s sister at the door.
The trip seems to violate strict lockdown rules as both parents showed symptoms and could have used help elsewhere in London.
March 30 to April 6:
The period when Mr. Cummings’ wife, Mary Wakefield, describes the family’s struggles with the 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 from the symptoms of Covid-19, as well as the apparent severity of her husband’s illness.
“Day after day, for ten days he lay doggo with a high fever and spasms causing the muscles in his legs to clump and tremble. He could breathe, but only in a limited, superficial way, “she wrote.
“After a week, we reached the peak of the corona uncertainty. Day six is a turning point, I was told, that’s when you get well or go to the ICU.
“But did Dom fight the defense or was he on his way to a ventilator? Who knows? I sat on his bed staring at his chest, trying to count his breaths per minute.
“The little oxygen reader we bought on Amazon indicated he should be in the hospital, but his lips weren’t blue and he could speak in full sentences, like,” Please stop staring at my chest, honey. ‘
Dominic Cummings remains absent from Downing Street. Downing Street said at the time that he was working, but not number 10, and insisted that number 10 be “fully operational.”
Number 10 is being contacted again to comment on Mr. Cummings’ journey through the Guardian. Instead of defending the trip, officials refuse to comment.
London-to-Durham: The 260-mile journey Cummings made to reach his parents’ home in Durham
On April 12, his wife’s birthday, Mr. Cummings and his family were reportedly seen 30 miles from Durham in the town of Barnard Castle. Retired chemistry teacher Robin Lees, 70, said he was “baffled.”
While Mr. Cummings could theoretically have completed a 14-day isolation period to recover from symptoms, government leadership was still clear: stay home and avoid unnecessary travel.
Mr. Lees told Sky: “They looked like they had taken a walk by the river. It was wrong because I thought he would be in London. You don’t take the virus from one part of the country to another. ‘
Sky News confirmed yesterday that the license plate number was Mr. Cummings’ car.
Mr. Cummings is returning to work for the first time since the news that he was suffering from coronavirus.
Questions are asked about his adherence to social distance counseling while being photographed walking downing Street with fellow assistant Cleo Watson.
A witness claimed to have seen Mr. Cummings on April 19 at Houghall Woods, a beauty site near his parents’ home in Durham.
He heard that the bells are “beautiful”. The witness said, “We were shocked and surprised to see him, because we were in Downing Street last week.
“We thought,” He shouldn’t be here when closing. ” We thought, “What double standards, one rule for him as the prime minister’s senior adviser, another rule for the rest of us.” When asked yesterday if he had been to Durham for the second time in April, Mr. Cummings said, “No I don’t.”
The claim is being reported by the Observer and Sunday Mirror on May 24.
Like all good journalists, Mary Wakefield has not missed an opportunity to turn personal difficulties into a seductive copy. As the editor-in-chief of the political magazine The Spectator, the daughter of the baronet described her and her husband’s struggle with the corona virus for an edition in late April.
She said she initially developed symptoms before Mr. Cummings rushed home and “collapsed.” She explained, “I felt breathless, painful at times, but Dom couldn’t get out of bed. Day in, day out for ten days, he lay doggo with a high fever and spasms causing the muscles in his legs to clump and tremble. He could breathe, but only in a limited, shallow way. ‘
Then, in a conclusion that contradicts the Durham sightings, she said the family “has quarantined in the almost comical uncertainty of London’s closure.”
Rumors are circulating on social media that Mr Cummings has been seen again in the Durham region. A police source said yesterday that the Telegraph officers contacted Mr. Cummings’s father around this time, but the sightings were not true.
The government has lifted the restriction on how far people can drive to reach and move in the countryside, but visits and overnight stays in second homes remain prohibited.
The news breaks in The Mirror and the Guardian of Mr Cummings’ journey to Durham.
Although Downing Street does not comment, Mr. Cummings’ close friends say, “He has no qualms about this story, it’s more fake news from The Guardian. There is no chance of him resigning. ‘
Downing Street appears to be standing with the Prime Minister’s assistant, saying in a statement: ‘Since his wife was infected with the suspected coronavirus and the high probability of becoming unwell himself, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure that his young child could be well taken care of.
“At no time was he or his family discussed by the police, as reported.”
Speaking to reporters outside his home, Mr. Cummings says, “I behaved reasonably and legally.”
When a reporter suggests that his actions didn’t look right, he replies, “Who cares about good looks? It is a matter of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you think. ‘
Later in the daily Downing Street briefing, Mr. Shapps says that Mr. Cummings has “the Prime Minister’s” full support “and that Mr. Johnson” knew he was sick and was locked up. “
Mr. Shapps says that families are always allowed to travel to be closer to family as long as they “go to that location and stay in that location.”
Meanwhile, Jenny Harries, Deputy Head of England, says travel during closing was allowed when ‘there was an extreme danger to life’, with a ‘protection clause’ on all advice to prevent vulnerable people from getting stuck at home without support.
In a new statement released later that evening, Durham police said the officers were notified on March 31 that Mr. Cummings was present at an address in the city.
Police added that an officer spoke to Mr Cummings’s father at his own request the next morning, confirming that his son had traveled north-east with his family and was “isolating himself in part of the property.”
It says that the force believed that no further action was needed. However, the officer did advise on security issues. ‘
In another evening statement, a No. 10 spokeswoman accuses the Mirror and Guardian of writing “inaccurate” stories about Mr. Cummings, including claims that he returned to Durham after returning to work on Downing Street on April 14 .
“We will not waste our time answering a flood of false accusations about Mr Cummings from campaign newspapers,” said the spokeswoman.
Asked by a journalist outside his home if he had returned to Durham in April, Mr. Cummings says, “No, I didn’t.”
A large number of Tory MPs are calling on him to resign or fire Mr. Johnson.
But the prime minister, who heads the daily Downing Street briefing, strongly supports Mr. Cummings, saying that his assistant acted in the best interests of his child, in a way that “every parent would honestly understand.”
He stressed that Mr. Cummings “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity.”
But the prime minister’s comments quell anger among Tory MPs, opposition parties, scientists, and even bishops – one of whom accuses Johnson of viewing the public “like a mug.”
Durham Alderman Amanda Hopgood says she wrote Durham Constabulary Chief of Police, Jo Farrell, after she was made aware of some sightings of Mr. Cummings in the area in April and May.
Mr. Cummings’ parents, Morag and Robert, defend him in an interview with the New Statesman, in which his mother said the family mourned after her brother – Lord Justice Laws – died on April 5 after contracting Covid-19 while was sick in the hospital, and his father said he was “disgusted” by the way the press treated his son during reporting.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson adds his support to Mr. Cummings, saying he should not resign “because he has made clear that he has not broken any rules and violated any laws.”
Martin Surl, Gloucestershire’s independent police and crime commissioner, said Mr Cummings’ actions made a “mockery” of police enforcement earlier in the lockdown “when the message was very, very clear: stay at home.”
Tory Member of Parliament David Warburton says his own father died only because of the coronavirus blockage and that Cummings’ story gives an impression of “double standards.”
Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon says he is concerned that Mr Johnson “is putting his political interest above the public interest” and adds that he hopes to “think further” about the matter.
Durham Police Commissioner today urges the local chief of police to initiate a formal investigation into Dominic Cummings’ closure visit to the city. Acting PCC Steve White writes Jo Farrell to ask her to investigate the facts surrounding Mr. Cummings’ journey and determine whether “was any possible violation of law or regulation in this matter.”
Mr. White says there is an “abundance of additional information circulating in the public domain that deserves appropriate investigation.” If the chief of police agrees to investigate the case, the prospect arises that the police will investigate ANPR or telephone records to determine the assistant’s movements.