UK PM Johnson defends adviser who travelled with coronavirus symptoms

British PM's top aide 'broke lockdown rules': reports

In a statement on Saturday morning, Number 10 said Mr Cummings had travelled to be close to family to seek help looking after his four-year-old child after his wife became ill with coronavirus symptoms - a virus which has seen more than 45,000 people in the United Kingdom die after contracting it, according to the latest available data.

Mr Cummings masterminded the 2016 Vote Leave campaign before being made Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief political adviser.

When pressed by reporters on Saturday as to how his actions looked to the public, Cummings responded angrily, asking the Daily Mail "who cares about good looks".

Instead, Cummings, his wife Mary Wakefield, an editor at the conservative magazine the Spectator, and their young son fled from the capital city to the countryside, even as the government was begging citizens not to travel to second homes, to stay indoors, and for those with symptoms, to follow strict quarantine to control the contagion.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has defended the behaviour of Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings, who drove from London to Durham during the lockdown, saying: "In moments of crisis, we seek to have our family around us".

"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", the police said.

In an updated statement, Durham Police said officers learned of his trip on 31 March and spoke to Mr Cummings' father the following day.

A member of the public is said to have spotted Mr Cummings and the sighting was reported to the police.

In a speech on 18 March, the Prime Minister said that "children should not be left with older grandparents, or older relatives, who may be particularly vulnerable or fall into some of the vulnerable groups".

Downing Street has always refused to confirm where Mr Cummings spent lockdown. He said on March 23 that people "should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home".

"There was a child, presumably his little boy, running around in front".

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"Dominic Cummings' position is completely untenable - he must resign or be sacked", Blackford said. I thought it's okay for you to drive all the way up to Durham and escape from London.

"The 10 Downing Street statement clarifies the situation and it is wholly inappropriate to politicise it".

Other critics have noted that many people have had to be separated from their children during cancer treatment, missed funerals, and made all manner of other sacrifices in the name of the lockdown rules that Cummings has flouted.

Earlier this month, leading epidemiologist Neil Ferguson quit a government panel on coronavirus after admitting breaking the lockdown rules by meeting his lover.

Cummings travelled with his wife to Durham while she was also unwell, according to reports by the Guardian and the Mirror. "It's as simple as that".

Britain's opposition Labour party said his actions suggested Cummings viewed himself as above the law and the smaller Liberal Democrats said it could be a resignation issue.

"The British individuals do not anticipate there to be one guideline for them as well as an additional guideline for DominicCummings Number 10 demands to supply a really speedy description for his activities.".

Government advice had been for people to stay at home during the first weeks of lockdown.

"It can not be right that there is one rule for the prime minister's adviser and another for the British people". In 1994, Cummings graduated from Exeter College, Oxford, with a degree in Ancient and Modern History.

Now Cummings is on the griddle after the Guardian and Mirror newspapers revealed Friday that the special adviser traveled from London to his parent's farm in Durham in northern England in late March -just as Johnson began his own hard bout with covid-19. Johnson was also infected and ended up in intensive care.

As of 9am on Friday 22 May, there are 1,898 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in County Durham, out of a population of around 530,000.

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