PM 'within the rules' by taking seven-mile Olympic Park bike ride, Policing Minister says

12 January 2021, 08:30 | Updated: 12 January 2021, 14:59

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Boris Johnson was “within the rules” in travelling seven miles for a bike ride in the Olympic Park, the Policing Minister has told LBC.

Kit Malthouse told Nick Ferrari: “You are allowed to leave your house once a day for the purposes of exercise... as you know [the Prime Minister is] a great cyclist, and that was his daily exercise as I understand it.”

He added: “It seems perfectly reasonable for him to take his exercise on his bike, he didn’t interact with anybody, acted proportionally, maintained social distancing. That all is perfectly within the rules.”

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Mr Johnson was spotted in the east London park on Sunday afternoon, cycling with members of his security detail. 

He has been accused of hypocrisy for travelling so far from his home after imposing sweeping Covid restrictions on others.

Official regulations brought in by the PM say that exercise is limited to once a day and you should not leave your local area.

But Mr Malthouse said: “Seven miles seems to me be a relatively short bike ride.”

“I know there are people out there jogging eight, nine miles a day to keep themselves fit," he added.

“It’s very important that we maintain our health and we are trying to strike a balance to allow people to exercise proportionally and get out there once a day to take that exercise and that’s what the Prime Minister was doing and it seems to me perfectly reasonable to do so.”

He continued: “What we’re asking people is... to consider whether they absolutely need to leave the house and if they are doing so if it’s for one of those reasons – to get food, to get their daily exercise and... to stay local as much as possible.”

Mr Malthouse said the meaning of local is “open for interpretation” but added it “certainly doesn’t mean crossing the country to drive to Snowdonia which we’ve seen happening, or up to the Peak District or whatever it might be.”

“But we know that the vast majority of people will apply their common sense, see the reasoning behind the rules, recognise the problem that we face in hospitals and elsewhere and comply," he added. "Where they don’t sadly I’m afraid the police will moving much more quickly towards enforcement."

A witness who claimed to have seen My Johnson said: "He was leisurely cycling with another guy with a beanie hat and chatting while around four security guys, possibly more, cycled behind them.

"When I realised the person looked like Boris I cycled past them to hear his voice and be sure it's him. It was definitely Boris."

Labour MP Andy Slaughter was among those to condemn him.

Mr Slaughter said: "Once again it is do as I say not as I do from the Prime Minister.

"London has some of the highest infection rates in the country. Boris Johnson should be leading by example."

The comments came after a Downing Street spokesman was unable to tell a Westminster briefing whether it was against the regulations to sit on a park bench on your own.

The Government was engulfed in controversy last year when Mr Johnson's then chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, was accused of breaking lockdown rules, something Mr Cummings denied.

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