England’s chief nursing officer May Ruth May was due to appear at the daily televised press conference on June 1, but it appears she was dropped after failing to back Mr Cummings for his lockdown trip to Durham.
When she failed to back the controversial figure, she was told she was no longer needed for the brefieing though she was never given an explanation why.
Journalists were informed that May may not have made it to that evening’s press event because she could have been stuck in traffic.
Appearing before MPs at the Public Accounts Committee on today, Ms May said: “It is indeed true I was dropped from a briefing, but that happens to many of my colleagues as well. That is a regular occurrence.
Stuck in traffic
“What I have to say is I was also asked to attend another briefing in June but I got stuck in traffic for that one.”
“I don’t know why I was dropped. I do know, though, that I was prepared to go to No 10 at a later date.”
Asked by the committee chair, Meg Hillier, for her views on Mr Cummings’ behaviour, said: “I believe that, in my opinion, the rules were clear and they were there for everyone’s safety and they applied to us all.
“They certainly applied to all of us, including me.”
“I don’t know why I was dropped from the briefing, you would have to ask other people,” she added.
Ms May said she thought the stay-at-home lockdown rules applied to everyone in the country.
She said: “I believe that, in my opinion, the rules are clear and they are there for everyone’s safety and they applied to us all.”
Her words echoed those of deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam who, when asked about Mr Cummings’ example at a briefing on May 30, had said lockdown rules “apply to all”.
In its initial story, the Independent quoted an NHS source saying Ms May was dropped had been dropped after saying she would follow the example set Prof Van-Tam, who was also then allegedly blacklisted for a number of weeks.
A second source reportedly told the media outlet: “Everyone is being asked to support the Government positions prior to doing a press conference.
“If they don’t, they get dropped.”
Silence when it suits them
Layla Moran MP, the Liberal Democrat leadership candidate, said the incident suggested ministers were “happy to silence the science when it suits them”.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had defended the Government against the allegations during a media briefing on June 12.
When asked about the claims last month, Mr Shapps said: “I don’t think it is true.
“She (Ms May) has attended them many times before.
“I notice that at the top of the No 10 Twitter feed I see one of her tweets pinned.
“I am absolutely sure she has been a regular contributor before and I am sure she will be back here again.”
National medical director of NHS England, said at the time he did not know anything about the row over Ms May.
The Government put a stop to the daily press conference on June 23, instead opting to restate them for announcements on an ad-hoc basis.