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Wed, 15 July 2020

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Durham police formally asked to investigate Dominic Cummings lockdown trip

Durham police formally asked to investigate Dominic Cummings lockdown trip

Dominic Cummings is facing calls to quit over the trip (PA)

3 min read

Durham police have been formally asked to investigate Dominic Cummings over his lockdown trip.

Durham's acting Police and Crime Commissioner Steve White has called on the force to "establish the facts" around the senior adviser's 260-mile trip, including whether he may have broken the law.

Mr Cummings has come under fire after he admitted travelling to Durham with his wife and son during the lockdown due to fears that should he fall ill with the virus there would be no one to provide childcare.

Meanwhile, Number 10 denied allegations that Mr Cummings had made further trips to Durham, saying they were "palpably false".

Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing on Sunday, Boris Johnson insisted his adviser had acted "legally, responsibly and with integrity" during the lockdown.

But in a letter to Durham's Chief Constable Jo Farrell, Mr White said there was a "plethora of additional information" that should be investigated.

"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 wrote.

"It is clear however that there is a plethora of additional information circulating in the public domain which deserves appropriate examination.

"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."

He added: "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."   

"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 letter will put further pressure on the Prime Minister, who is already facing growing calls from his own MPs to sack the former Vote Leave chief.

The group, which includes former ministers Steve Baker and Caroline Nokes, have raised concerns that ministers could lose the "authority and respect" from the public over the row.

Meanwhile, Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has demanded further answers from ministers, including whether police forces have been given updated guidance regarding travel restrictions.

In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, he asked: "If people who are travelling in a car in the expectation that they may require child care at some point, can you confirm that police will not be empowered to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to them?"

He added: "As you know, police officers have put themselves at extraordinary risk to keep people safe during this crisis, whilst also working with great skill to interpret and explain public health legislation.

"The confusion and misinformation caused by the government’s response to these revelations appears to make this work even more difficult."

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