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Thu, 9 July 2020

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Number 10 stands by Dominic Cummings after Durham Police say Barnard Castle trip ‘might’ have breached lockdown rules

Number 10 stands by Dominic Cummings after Durham Police say Barnard Castle trip ‘might’ have breached lockdown rules

Durham Police said no further action will be taken (PA)

3 min read

Number 10 has stood firm by Dominic Cummings after Durham Police conclude his trip to Barnard Castle “might have been a minor breach” of lockdown rules.

But the force said they “will take no further action in this matter” and suggested no enforcement action would have been taken if police had been aware at the time.

A Downing Street spokesperson welcomed the news, adding that the Prime Minister “regards this issues as closed”. 

The PM’s senior adviser ignited a row last week after it was revealed he had driven to a vacant family house in Durham to self-isolate with his wife and son.

In a subsequent public statement, Mr Cummings also admitted he had driven to nearby Barnard Castle during lockdown to ensure he was fit to drive back to London. 

In its own statement, Durham Constabulary stated it “does not consider” the SpAd’s drive from London to Durham to be a breach of the regulation.

But, it said that evidence suggested the trip to Barnard Castle could be considered a ‘minor’ violation.

The force said: “Durham Constabulary have examined the circumstances surrounding the journey to Barnard Castle… and have concluded that there might have been a minor breach of the Regulations that would have warranted police intervention. 

“Durham Constabulary 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 statement also clarified that Durham Police “has not taken retrospective action against any other person” and so has “no intention” of doing so in regards to the PM’s adviser.

A Downing Street spokesperson responded: “The police have made clear they are taking no action against Mr Cummings over his self-isolation and that going to Durham did not breach the regulations. 

“The Prime Minister has said he believes Mr Cummings behaved reasonably and legally given all the circumstances and he regards this issues as closed.”

But the statement triggered anger from Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds, who said: “The police have confirmed what we all knew, that Dominic Cummings broke the rules he helped to write.

"The country cannot afford for this saga to carry on. Only Boris Johnson can draw a line under it.

“Keir Starmer has said that if he was Prime Minister, he would have sacked Dominic Cummings. Boris Johnson should follow that advice.

"If he does not act then he will send a clear message that there is one rule for his closest adviser and another for the British people.”

Meanwhile, acting Lib Dem leader Ed Davey, added: "Either the Prime Minister and his Ministers lied or they have no understanding of the rules they have written.

"This behaviour over the past few days has entirely eroded the public's trust in the Government.

"The Prime Minister has said he wants to move on so that all efforts can be focused on the UK's response to the pandemic, but the only way to do that would be for him to ask for Dominic Cumming's resignation."

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