Dominic Cumming faces fresh calls to resign after his press conference on Monday raised more questions about his breaches of lockdown than it answered.
In an extraordinary television press conference held in the Downing Street rose garden the prime minister’s chief aide attempted to explain why he broke the lockdown rules he helped create in March and April by driving 260 miles from his home in London to his parents’ property near Durham.
Cummings’ account raises a number of issues for his actions in late March and early April:
- After finding his wife suffering from the symptoms of Covid-19, Cummings still returned to work at Downing Street despite specific instructions that those living with people with symptoms must stay home and isolate for 14 days.
- Cummings did not think of asking family, friends, community groups, or his local council in London whether they could deliver food parcels to his door before taking a wife already likely infected with the virus 260 miles north and putting others at risk.
- Cummings did have “shouted” conversations with his parents whilst living on their property near Durham during his ‘isolation’ despite specific government guidance that when isolating people must stay indoors and not interact with others outside their household.
- Cummings’ wife, Mary Wakefield, went with their son in an ambulance to the local hospital when he fell ill, despite the risk of spreading coronavirus to everyone they met when few cases of coronavirus had then been discovered in the area. The warnings to stay home and not visit second homes was specifically designed to avoid this situation.
- Cummings drove to pick up his wife and child from the hospital despite being ‘bed-ridden’ with coronavirus, when his nieces could have done the drive and not put other road users at risk. He supposedly drove to Durham to get their help in situations specifically like this.
- The family drove to local beauty spot Barnard Castle on Mary Wakefield’s birthday so that Cummings could ‘test his eyesight’ before driving back to London. They put other road users at risk and police have put out guidance making it clear nobody should drive with poor eyesight. He did not say why his wife could not drive either this trip to Barnard Castle or back to London.
Cummings refused to apologise throughout the conference and said he never considered offering Boris Johnson his resignation.
In a further question about his actions during the pandemic, Cummings was asked about his involvement in the government’s earlier decision to let the virus run rampant through the British population to obtain “herd immunity”. He denied herd immunity was ever the government’s plan and said he had been warning about the threat of coronavirus pandemics since early last year.
There is an article published on 4 March 2019 on his website that does discuss the dangers of virus pandemics but only in regards to the possibility of them escaping from government labs. The sections that specifically discuss coronaviruses such as SARS were also only edited into the piece in April this year, after Covid-19 had killed Britons, after the government had changed tack and called for a lockdown, and after Cummings had broken lockdown by visiting Durham.