Durham Police: Dominic Cummings may have committed ‘minor’ lockdown breach
28 May 2020, 12:39 | Updated: 28 May 2020, 17:44
Durham Police have concluded that Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings may have committed a "minor breach" of coronavirus lockdown rules.
An investigation concluded Mr Cummings would have been in breach of lockdown rules had he been stopped by a police officer when he drove to Barnard Castle, but the force will not take any further action against him.
A police spokesperson said Mr Cummings committed a "minor breach" when he drove to Barnard Castle on April 12 to test his eyesight.
During Thursday's press conference, Boris Johnson said he was "drawing a line" under the incident and said he would not allow advisors Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance to answer questions on the row to "protect them" from a "political argument".
He said: "I've said quite a lot on this matter already and what I also note is that what Durham police said was that they were going to take no action and that the matter was closed.
"And I intend to draw a line under the matter, as I said yesterday to the Parliamentary Liaison Committee."
He added: "I know that you've asked Chris and Patrick but I'm going to interpose myself if I may and protect them from what I think would be an unfair and unnecessary attempt to ask any political questions.
"It's very, very important that our medical officers and scientific advisers do not get dragged into what I think most people would recognise is fundamentally a political argument."
A spokesperson for Durham Police said: "On 12 April 2020, Mr Cummings drove approximately 26 miles from his father’s property to Barnard Castle with his wife and son. He stated on 25 May 2020 that the purpose of this drive was to test his resilience to drive to London the following day, including whether his eyesight was sufficiently recovered, his period of self-isolation having ended."
Durham Police said following an investigation around his journey to Barnard Castle officers concluded that there "might have been a minor breach of the Regulations that would have warranted police intervention."
The force said they view this as minor because there was "no apparent breach of social distancing."
"Had a Durham Constabulary police officer stopped Mr Cummings driving to or from Barnard Castle, the officer would have spoken to him, and, having established the facts, likely advised Mr Cummings to return to the address in Durham, providing advice on the dangers of travelling during the pandemic crisis. Had this advice been accepted by Mr Cummings, no enforcement action would have been taken," the force said.
A Number 10 spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has said he believes Mr Cummings behaved reasonably and legally given all the circumstances and he regards this issue as closed".
During a Downing Street press conference, Mr Cummings said that by April 11 he had sought medical advice and was told it was safe to return to work.
He said that because his eyesight had been affected by the disease his wife did not want to risk the long drive back to London so they went on a "short drive" to Barnard Castle.
Mr Cummings said he could also understand that some people felt he should not have driven anywhere, but said he had taken expert medical advice and it was 15 days after his symptoms.
The PM's senior adviser added: "I think it was reasonable and sensible to make a short journey before embarking on a five-hour drive to see whether I was in a fit state to do this.
"The alternative was stay in Durham rather than going back to work and contributing to the Government's efforts.
I believe I made the right judgment, although others might disagree with that."