By Rachael Grealish
Dominic Cummings has said will not be stepping down from his position, but admitted to going to Barnard Castle, in a press conference today, Monday, May 25, regarding the accusations he broke lockdown on several occasions.
In the press conference, which was over half an hour late, the architect of the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign explained his actions and said he ‘does not regret’ them.
Cummings faced backlash after it was revealed in a joint investigation by The Guardian and The Daily Mirror he travelled 260 miles from London to stay in a Durham residence, on March 31, while he and his wife were suffering with Coronavirus symptoms.
This included that he did not tell the Prime Minister of his decision and did not return to Durham on April 19.
In a lengthy statement the aide admitted to driving to Durham while his wife was ill and making the journey Barnard Castle.
He said: “I know that millions of people have been suffering and thousands have died. In retrospect, I should have made this statement earlier.
After his wife fell ill he said: “I was worried that if my wife and I were both seriously ill we had no reasonable childcare options in London.”
He said: “I did not ask the Prime Minister about this decision. He was ill himself and he had huge problems to deal with. Every day I have to exercise my judgement about things like this and decide what to discuss with him.
“I thought that I would speak to him when the situation clarified over the coming days, including whether I had symptoms and whether there were tests available.
“Arguably this was a mistake and I understand that some will say that I should have spoken to the Prime Minister before deciding what to do.”
He said he drove to Durham, without stopping and arrived ‘around midnight’/
“So I drove the three of us up to Durham that night, arriving roughly midnight. I did not stop on the way,” he continued, “When I awoke the next morning, Saturday March 28, I was in pain and clearly had COVID symptoms including a headache and a serious fever.
“Clearly I could not return to work anytime soon. For a day or two, we were both ill, I was in bed, my wife was ill but not ill enough to require emergency help.”
Cummings said he ‘understands’ the anger from the public he received, but feels he acted reasonably.
He said: “I can understand that some people will argue I should have stayed at home in London.
“I understand these views, I understand the intense hardship and sacrifice the entire country has gone through. However, I respectfully disagree.
“The legal rules inevitably do not cover all circumstances, including those that I found myself in.”
Mr Cummings said: “I hope that today, after I have explained, people will realise this was a tricky situation.”
When questioned by journalists he said: “I don’t regret what I did. I think reasonable people may well disagree about how I thought about what to do in the circumstances, but I think what I did was actually reasonable in these circumstances.
“The rules made clear that if you are dealing with small children that can be exceptional circumstances.
“And I think that the situation that I was in was exceptional circumstances and the way that I dealt with it was the least risk to everybody concerned if my wife and I had both been unable to look after our four-year-old.”
The senior political aide protested his innocence and despite pleas from Conservative MPs and celebrities to have him sacked, Boris Johnson solidified his backing of Cummings in yesterday’s daily Coronavirus briefing.
The PM said his aide acted ‘responsibly, legally and with integrity and with the overall aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives’.
While being questioned by members of the media Cummings said: “I do not regret what I did,” and “I did not consider [resigning]”.
Durham Constabulary released a statement shortly before the press conference saying: “Following significant public interest over the last few days, Durham Constabulary wish to add the following to our statement of Saturday, May 23rd.
“We can confirm that on April 1, an officer from Durham Constabulary spoke to the father of Dominic Cummings. Mr Cummings confirmed that his son, his son’s wife and child were present at the property. He told the officer that his son and son’s wife were displaying symptoms of coronavirus and were self-isolating in part of the property.
“We can further confirm that our officer gave no specific advice on coronavirus to any members of the family and that Durham Constabulary deemed that no further action was required in that regard.
“Our officer did, however, provide the family with advice on security issues.”