Durham Police examining fresh allegations against Dominic Cummings

Martin Evans
Dominic Cummings
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Dominic Cummings is facing a police investigation into his actions after travelling from London to his parents’ home in the North East at the height of the lockdown.

The Force has confirmed it is examining a number of complaints after receiving “fresh information” alleging Boris Johnson’s most serious aide breached the Covid-19 laws.

But in an embarrassing development Durham Police was forced to issue a third statement clarifying that officers had not discussed the coronavirus lockdown when it spoke to Mr Cummings’ father on April 1.

The statement confirmed Robert Cummings had told officers his son was staying at his property and he and his wife were displaying signs of coronavirus and were self isolating.

The statement went on: “We can further confirm that our officer gave no specific advice on coronavirus to any members of the family and that Durham Constabulary deemed that no further action was required in that regard. Our officer did, however, provide the family with advice on security issues.”

In a lengthy statement delivered in the garden of Number 10 Downing Street yesterday, Mr Cummings set out his reasons for making the 260 mile journey on March 27.

He also admitted making a 30 mile journey on April 12, his wife’s birthday, to the market town of Barnard Castle, where they took a 15 minute stroll with their four year old son by the river.

But he told reporters that the reason for the journey had been because he feared coronavirus had affected his vision and he wanted to check he was fit to drive before making the long journey back to London.

Durham Police said: “We can confirm that over the last few days Durham Constabulary has received further information and complaints from members of the public and we are reviewing and examining that information.”

The  investigation is expected to focus on whether he had a “reasonable excuse” to make the journeys, both to Durham and to Barnard Castle.

Under the Health Protection Coronavirus Restrictions Regulations, which became law on the 26 March, “no person may leave the house where they live without reasonable excuse”.

Those who are found to have breached the regulations can receive a fixed penalty notice or even be prosecuted, but most are given words of advice.

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Mr Cummings could now be interviewed by the police as part of the inquiry to establish whether his reasons for venturing out were "reasonable".

The launch of the investigation comes after Durham’s acting police and crime commissioner, Steve White, wrote to his Chief Constable Jo Farrell, urging her to launch a criminal investigation, insisting it was important to maintain public confidence in the force.

In a statement Mr White said: “I am confident that thus far, Durham police has responded proportionately and appropriately to the issues raised concerning Mr Cummings and his visit to the County at the end of March. 

He added: “I have today written to the Chief Constable, asking her to establish the facts concerning any potential breach of the law or regulations in this matter at any juncture. 

“It is vital that the Force can show it has the interests of the people of County Durham and Darlington at its heart, so that the model of policing by consent, independent of government but answerable to the law, is maintained.”     He went on: “It will be for the Chief Constable to determine the operational response to this request and I am confident that with the resources at its disposal, the Force can show proportionality and fairness in what has become a major issue of public interest and trust.”

The Force had initially claimed officers spoke to Mr Cummings family, without naming them, and had offered advice on the coronavirus lockdown.

Hours later Downing Street denied that any member of Mr Cummings’ family had been spoken to by police, prompting the force to issue a clarifying statement in which he was named.

But on Monday Durham Police issued a third statement confirming it had not raised the issue of the lockdown.

Boris Johnson has steadfastly backed his most senior aide, insisting he acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”.

Mr Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle came to light when retired chemistry teacher, Robin Lees, spotted him walking by the river on Easter Sunday.

At the weekend he lodged a formal complaint to Durham Police complaining that Mr Cummings’ presence was a breach of the lockdown.

Asked if he should now resign, Mr Lees told the Telegraph: "That’s up to him, but at the time the whole country was making a huge effort to stay at home.”