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Who is Boris Johnson's senior advisor Dominic Cummings?
23 May 2020, 09:34
Police have concluded that Dominic Cummings did break lockdown rules in travelling to Durham, despite Mr Cummings and Prime Minster Boris Johnson standing firm the adviser's actions were "reasonable and sensible".
Dominic Cummings was accused of breaking lockdown rules by travelling 260 miles from his London home to stay with his parents in Durham.
However, During a Downing Street press conference, Mr Cummings said that by April 11 he had sought medical advice and was told it was safe to return to work.
On Thursday, Durham police confirmed that Dominic Cummings may have committed a "minor breach" of coronavirus lockdown rules.
He said that because his eyesight had been affected by the disease his wife did not want to risk the long drive back to London so they went on a "short drive" to Barnard Castle.
Political leaders have piled pressure on Mr Johnson over the actions of the the 48-year-old strategist, with more than 40 Conservative MPs now calling for his resignation.
But who is Dominic Cummings, what is role in the government and did he break lockdown?
Who is Dominic Cummings?
Dominic Cummings is considered to be one of the most powerful people in Downing Street since his appointment as Boris Johnson's senior advisor.
In the early 2000s, Mr Cummings was director of strategy for the Conservative Party.
He later campaigned against elected regional assembly in the North East, before moving on to work as a special advisor for Michael Gove and eventually becoming his Chief of Staff.
Mr Cummings left this role in 2013 in order to open a new free school.
He then joined the Vote Leave campaign during the 2016 EU referendum, and is widely credited as one of the most influential figures in the campaign's success.
Last year, Mr Cummings refused to appear before the House of Commons' digital, culture, media and sport committee over allegations made against the Vote Leave campaign and allegations of "unlawful coordination". However, he refused to attend and was found in contempt of parliament.
Boris Johnson appointed Mr Cummings as senior adviser at Number 10 when he became prime minister in 2019.
The December 2019 election victory then gave Dominic Cummings the ability to work to "reshape Whitehall".
It was around this time that he issued his infamous recruitment call for data scientists, economists and "weirdos and misfits with odd skills" to join the Civil Service.
What is his role in government?
Dominic Cummings is a political strategist and Boris Johnson's most senior advisor since 2019.
The appointment was seen as controversial, given he was found to be in contempt of Parliament earlier in the year.
In April of this year, it was also revealed Mr Cummings has also been present at meetings co-ordinating the response to the coronavirus pandemic as part of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
When this was revealed, concerns were raised over a lack of breadth in expertise of the meetings and political interference in science-based advice.
Who is Dominic Cummings' wife?
Dominic Cummings is married to British journalist Mary Wakefield, who is alleged to have travelled to Durham with him.
She said she developed Covid-19 symptoms on 27 March.
Ms Wakefield later wrote an article describing their time in isolation - but made no mention of the trip to Durham.
In the article, she said her husband said he "felt weird" 24 hours after rushing home to her.
Within this, she said: “Dom couldn’t get out of bed. Day in, day out for 10 days he lay doggo with a high fever and spasms.”
Cummings himself wrote: “At the end of March and for the first two weeks of April I was ill, so we were both shut in together.”
Did Dominic Cummings break lockdown?
Durham Police have concluded that Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings may have committed a "minor breach" of coronavirus lockdown rules.
An investigation concluded Mr Cummings would have been in breach of lockdown rules had he been stopped by a police officer when he drove to Barnard Castle, but the force will not take any further action against him.
A police spokesperson said Mr Cummings committed a "minor breach" when he drove to Barnard Castle on April 12 to test his eyesight.
A spokesperson for Durham Police said: "On 12 April 2020, Mr Cummings drove approximately 26 miles from his father’s property to Barnard Castle with his wife and son. He stated on 25 May 2020 that the purpose of this drive was to test his resilience to drive to London the following day, including whether his eyesight was sufficiently recovered, his period of self-isolation having ended."
However, a Number 10 spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has said he believes Mr Cummings behaved reasonably and legally given all the circumstances and he regards this issue as closed".
Allegations against Mr Cummings, revealed by a joint investigation by the Mirror and the Guardian, claim that he was spotted in Durham - almost 300 miles away from his London home - despite having had symptoms of coronavirus.
He was spoken to five days after the Government issued guidance which said: “You should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home.”
It was confirmed on 30 March Mr Cummings was self-isolating after experiencing symptoms, and the government had told the nation people should be staying at home, and not be visiting elderly relatives who were at greater risk from the virus.
It has been reported Mr Cummings has told colleagues he travelled to Durham after he and his wife developed Covid-19 symptoms so his parents could look after their young son.