Who is Boris Johnson's senior advisor Dominic Cummings?
23 May 2020, 09:34 | Updated: 24 May 2020, 09:54
Boris Johnson's senior advisor Dominic Cummings has been accused of breaking lockdown rules by travelling 260 miles from his London home to stay with his parents in Durham.
Mr Cummings is alleged to have left London with his wife and children after developing coronavirus symptoms.
A member of the public is understood to have seen him and made a complaint to the police.
Political leaders have piled pressure on Mr Johnson to sack the 48-year-old strategist, with Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP all speaking out on the allegations.
But who is Dominic Cummings, what is role in the government and did he break lockdown?
Who is Dominic Cummings?
Dominic Cummings is considered to be one of the most powerful people in Downing Street since his appointment as Boris Johnson's senior advisor.
In the early 2000s, Mr Cummings was director of strategy for the Conservative Party.
He later campaigned against elected regional assembly in the North East, before moving on to work as a special advisor for Michael Gove and eventually becoming his Chief of Staff.
Mr Cummings left this role in 2013 in order to open a new free school.
He then joined the Vote Leave campaign during the 2016 EU referendum, and is widely credited as one of the most influential figures in the campaign's success.
Last year, Mr Cummings refused to appear before the House of Commons' digital, culture, media and sport committee over allegations made against the Vote Leave campaign and allegations of "unlawful coordination". However, he refused to attend and was found in contempt of parliament.
Boris Johnson appointed Mr Cummings as senior adviser at Number 10 when he became prime minister in 2019.
The December 2019 election victory then gave Dominic Cummings the ability to work to "reshape Whitehall".
It was around this time that he issued his infamous recruitment call for data scientists, economists and "weirdos and misfits with odd skills" to join the Civil Service.
What is his role in government?
Dominic Cummings is a political strategist and Boris Johnson's most senior advisor since 2019.
The appointment was seen as controversial, given he was found to be in contempt of Parliament earlier in the year.
In April of this year, it was also revealed Mr Cummings has also been present at meetings co-ordinating the response to the coronavirus pandemic as part of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
When this was revealed, concerns were raised over a lack of breadth in expertise of the meetings and political interference in science-based advice.
Who is Dominic Cummings' wife?
Dominic Cummings is married to British journalist Mary Wakefield, who is alleged to have travelled to Durham with him.
She said she developed Covid-19 symptoms on 27 March.
Ms Wakefield later wrote an article describing their time in isolation - but made no mention of the trip to Durham.
In the article, she said her husband said he "felt weird" 24 hours after rushing home to her.
Within this, she said: “Dom couldn’t get out of bed. Day in, day out for 10 days he lay doggo with a high fever and spasms.”
Cummings himself wrote: “At the end of March and for the first two weeks of April I was ill, so we were both shut in together.”
Did Dominic Cummings break lockdown?
Allegations against Mr Cummings, revealed by a joint investigation by the Mirror and the Guardian, claim that he was spotted in Durham - almost 300 miles away from his London home - despite having had symptoms of coronavirus.
He was spoken to five days after the Government issued guidance which said: “You should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home.”
It was confirmed on 30 March Mr Cummings was self-isolating after experiencing symptoms, and the government had told the nation people should be staying at home, and not be visiting elderly relatives who were at greater risk from the virus.
It has been reported Mr Cummings has told colleagues he travelled to Durham after he and his wife developed Covid-19 symptoms so his parents could look after their young son.
A spokesman for Durham Constabulary told The Guardian: “On Tuesday, March 31, our officers were made aware of reports that an individual had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city.
“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.
“In line with national policing guidance, officers explained to the family the guidelines around self-isolation and reiterated the appropriate advice around essential travel.”
In a statement, Downing Street 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. 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."