Police to take no action over Cummings' trip

Cheryl Sanders
May 29, 2020

It said the breach was deemed minor because there was no evidence of breaking social distancing rules.

United Kingdom police said on Thursday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior adviser Dominic Cummings may have breached coronavirus lockdown rules by driving slightly more than 40 kilometres to a castle with his wife and son.

Cummings made a public explanation earlier this week that he made the auto journey together with his wife and their four-year-old son from London to Durham when his wife developed COVID-19 symptoms.

In their statement Durham police said of Cummings" decision to drive from London: "Durham constabulary does not consider that by locating himself at his father's premises, Mr Cummings committed an offence contrary to regulation 6 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020.

The 60-mile-round trip to the latter, according to Cummings, was made with his wife to "test" his eyesight. He stated on May 25, 2020, that the goal 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.

David Allen Green, a writer and commentator on law and policy, said the use of "might" in the statement means police would have "considered that there was a breach", in order to have been in position to tell him to turn back to Durham, had he been stopped.

Robin Lees, the retired chemistry teacher who spotted Cummings in Barnard Castle and took a note of his auto registration number, said he welcomed the police conclusion.

Speaking at Downing Street, Mr Whitty said: "I can assure you the desire to not get pulled into politics is far stronger to Patrick and me than it is to the Prime Minister".

"In line with Durham Constabulary's general approach throughout the pandemic, there is no intention to take retrospective action in respect of the Barnard Castle incident since this would amount to treating Mr Cummings differently from other members of the public", it concluded.

The force added it has not taken retrospective lockdown action against anyone since it was imposed on 23 March.

Cummings' behaviour has been criticised by politicians from all major parties, but Johnson has said he wanted to move on from the topic.

Cummings has insisted he did not break the rules, saying in an extraordinary press conference on 25 May: "I believe that in all circumstances I behaved reasonably and legally, balancing the safety of my family and the extreme situation in Number 10, and the public interest in effective government to which I could contribute".

Both officials then said they did not want to get involved in politics and declined to address the question.

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