The investigation by the Guardian and Mirror newspapers continues to cast fresh doubt on Dominic Cummings’s claims he travelled to Durham and stayed in full isolation. Two witnesses have claimed to have seen the under fire Government advisor during his period of lockdown, after his lengthy drive to the North East.
Currently Dominic Cummings has the “full support” of the Prime Minister after details emerged that he travelled 250 miles to County Durham during the lockdown.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, speaking at the daily Downing Street Covid-19 briefing, said: “I can tell you the PM provides Mr Cummings with his full support.”
however, one witness saw him in Durham on 19 April, days after Cummings was photographed in London having recovered from the virus. A week earlier Cummings was seen by another witness in Barnard Castle on Easter Day, 30 miles away from Durham.
Robin Lees, 70, a retired chemistry teacher from the town, says he saw Cummings and his family walking by the Tees before getting into a car around lunch time on 12 April.
Lees said: “I was a bit gobsmacked to see him, because I know what he looks like. And the rest of the family seemed to match – a wife and child. I was pretty convinced it was him and it didn’t seem right because I assumed he would be in London.”
He added: “I went home and told my wife, we thought he must be in London. I searched up the number plate later that day and my computer search history shows that.”
The other eyewitness, who declined to be named, said: “We were shocked and surprised to see him because the last time we did was earlier in the week in Downing Street.”
It is up to “individuals” to decide how to practise lockdown measures, Grant Shapps has said, and to decide how to make sure they have enough family support.
The Transport Secretary said it had always been permissible for families to travel to be closer to their relatives as long as they “go to that location and stay in that location”.
When challenged about the decision by the Prime Minister’s top aide Dominic Cummings to travel more than 260 miles to return to his family home after his wife started displaying coronavirus symptoms, Mr Shapps said it was “the best possible option” for the family.
Mr Shapps said on Saturday: “It’s for an individual to make the decision: ‘How do I make sure I’ve got enough support around the family?’
“Particularly in the case you are referring to, with a potential of both parents ending up being ill and having a young child to look after – how do you have that support network around them?”
Mr Shapps continued: “The decision here was to go to that location and stay in that location.
“They don’t then need to move around from there and so it would be for each individual to work out the best way to do that, which is what’s happened here.”