Boris Johnson has defended his top aide for travelling 264 miles to Durham with his children during lockdown, despite the fact those around him had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Downing Street has said Dominic Cummings believed he ‘behaved reasonably and legally’ when he travelled from his London home to Country Durham during the lockdown.
A statement said his actions were in line with guidelines and said reports that his family were spoken to by police were incorrect.
The statement said: ‘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.
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‘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.’
Durham Constabulary said in a statement on Friday that officers contacted the owners of a property in County Durham on March 31, more than a week after the lockdown had been imposed by the PM.
Steve White, Durham police and crime commissioner, said officers ‘acted appropriately’ in relation to Cummings’ visit to the county.
In a statement, the former head of the Police Federation in England and Wales said it was ‘most unwise’ for the No 10 adviser to have travelled when ‘known to be infected’.
Some cabinet ministers took to Twitter to defend Cummings after the Downing Street statement.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove, who used to employ Cummings, spoke out on his behalf, tweeting: ‘Caring for your wife and child is not a crime.’
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab and chancellor Rishi Sunak, also weighed in to defend the aide.
Sunak tweeted: ‘Taking care of your wife and young child is justifiable and reasonable, trying to score political points over it isn’t.’
Raab wrote: ‘It’s reasonable and fair to ask for an explanation on this. And it has been provided: two parents with Coronavirus, were anxiously taking care of their young child. Those now seeking to politicise it should take a long hard look in the mirror.’
Matt Hancock, who said it was right SAGE scientist Neil Ferguson resigned for flouting lockdow rules, also supported Cummings.
‘I know how ill coronavirus makes you. It was entirely right for Dom Cummings to find childcare for his toddler, when both he and his wife were getting ill,’ he wrote.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, responded to the tweets by commenting: ‘The truly awful thing is that Cabinet Ministers know that in a public health crisis, unclear messages, lack of trust, or credibility cost lives. They know this, yet they’ve chosen – CHOSEN – to rip up all their public health messages to push their party political lines instead.’