Court rejects case against Dominic Cummings' lockdown breach

Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home

Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home - Credit: PA

A legal challenge over the decision not to investigate Dominic Cummings for alleged breaches of coronavirus lockdown rules has been rejected by the High Court.

London resident Martin Redston sought permission to take legal action against the director of public prosecutions (DPP), Max Hill QC, over the alleged failure to investigate whether Cummings breached lockdown rules.

At a hearing in London on Tuesday, Michael Mansfield QC said Cummings “appearing to evade any genuine scrutiny for his actions due to government associations is undermining of respect for the rule of law”.

He referred to “evidence of the ‘Cummings effect’ reducing public trust or compliance”, as well as the “Cummings defence” of people “seeking to justify breaching the law”, as demonstrating “the ongoing public sore arising from this issue”.

Mansfield said that Cummings was “virtually a lawmaker” who helped make, or at least advised on, the lockdown rules, adding: “The public concern here is … had the lawmaker broken the law he has made or helped to make?”

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He told the court that Cummings had committed “at least one offence”, which was investigated by Durham Police, but that a “potential offence” relating to him leaving his home in London had not been considered.

The barrister added that Cummings showed “reckless disregard” for lockdown guidance when he attended work on March 27, despite his wife exhibiting coronavirus symptoms.

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Mansfield also argued that public support for Cummings by attorney general Suella Braverman and home secretary Priti Patel, who he said had “publicly expressed prejudgment” in tweets in May, was “plainly wrong”.

He concluded that the appearance of lawmakers “flagrantly not obeying” their own rules “affects the level of security and health” for the rest of the population.

Duncan Atkinson QC, for the DPP, argued that there had been no decision by the DPP not to prosecute or to not refer the matter to police, and that Redston should be refused permission.

Refusing permission to bring a legal challenge, Lady Justice Carr, sitting with Mr Justice Picken, said: “The decision in principle is that this renewed claim for permission to apply for judicial review will be refused.”

The judge added that the court’s decision for refusing permission would be provided in writing by Thursday afternoon.

Speaking outside court after the ruling, Redston said: “I’m obviously very disappointed, as you can imagine, but ultimately the aim of this is to ensure Dominic Cummings is actually prosecuted for the breach of lockdown regulations.

“We now know that the DPP is not going to take any action and, presumably, that means the police will not respond to our requests for action, so now we want to consider how we go forward to ensure that the prosecution takes place.”

He added: “I think we are in the position we are as a nation to some extent because of what Cummings did.

“The prime minister said ‘stay at home’, those are his words. There must have been people who were literally in the car, packed … and they must have stopped when Johnson said ‘stay at home’.

“One person didn’t, a man in the public eye who got in his car … and he drove 250 miles.”

Redston said many members of the public “see that he didn’t play the game in the same way that the rest of us did and that’s why we are here”.

Separately, fresh evidence of Cummings' lockdown breaches has been handed to the CPS by ex-chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal.

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