The Prime Minister’s chief adviser made a controversial 260-mile drive from London to Durham in March to stay on his parents’ farm while strict travel restrictions were in place, after his wife, journalist Mary Wakefield, exhibited Covid-19 symptoms.
At an extraordinary press conference in Downing Street’s Rose Garden in May, Boris Johnson’s senior aide argued that his journey to Durham was to protect his family’s health, while a drive to Barnard Castle 25 miles was to test his eyesight.
Mr Cummings said his actions were “reasonable in these circumstances”, adding: “I don’t regret what I did.”
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Durham Constabulary later said officers had concluded “there might have been a minor breach of the regulations that would have warranted police intervention”, but did not intend to take “retrospective action”.
London resident Martin Redston sought permission to take legal action against the director of public prosecutions (DPP), Max Hill QC, over the alleged failure to investigate whether Mr Cummings breached lockdown rules.
At a hearing in London today, Tuesday, November 3, Michael Mansfield QC referred to “evidence of the ‘Cummings effect’ reducing public trust or compliance”, as well as the “Cummings defence” of people “seeking to justify breaching the law”, as demonstrating “the ongoing public sore arising from this issue”.
He told the court that Mr Cummings had committed “at least one offence”, which was investigated by Durham Police, but that a “potential offence” relating to him leaving his home in London had not been considered.
Duncan Atkinson QC, for the DPP, argued there had been no decision by the DPP not to prosecute or to not refer the matter to police, and that Mr Redston should be refused permission.
The court’s decision for refusing permission would be provided in writing by Thursday afternoon.
Speaking outside court, Mr Redston said: “I’m obviously very disappointed, as you can imagine, but ultimately the aim of this is to ensure Dominic Cummings is actually prosecuted for the breach of lockdown regulations.”
He added: “I think we are in the position we are as a nation to some extent because of what Cummings did.
“The Prime Minister said ‘stay at home’, those are his words.”