Dominic Cummings row reignites as witnesses complain to police watchdog

7 August 2020, 06:01

Dominic Cummings admitted to travelling to Durham in late March during the height of lockdown
Dominic Cummings admitted to travelling to Durham in late March during the height of lockdown. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A couple who claim to be "100 per cent" certain they saw Dominic Cummings on a second trip to Durham have complained to the police over the handling of their report.

The chief aide to the Prime Minister was thrown into a nationwide scandal in May after admitting to travelling 260 miles to Durham on 27 March with his wife and child, despite the strict stay-at-home orders in place at the time.

His wife was showing symptoms of coronavirus at the time and he claimed they were seeking childcare for their young son.

During their two-week stay on his parent's property, he also admitted to making a 60-mile round trip to Barnard Castle which he claimed was to test his eyesight.

Following a mass public outcry, Mr Cummings was given an unprecedented press conference in the garden of Number 10, where he denied allegations he had made a second trip to Durham, after anonymous witnesses claimed they saw him in Houghall Woods on the morning of 19 April.

But new witnesses Dave and Clare Edwards have gone public with their allegations that they also saw him in the woods on that morning.

But he denies claims he was also in Durham on 19 April
But he denies claims he was also in Durham on 19 April. Picture: PA

They told The Mirror they are "100 per cent certain" it was him and made a report to the police, and a fourth anonymous witness has also told the newspaper they spotted him.

Mr Cummings has denied he was in the north-east that day, claiming he has proof - which has never been made public - he was in London. A witness told the Guardian they spotted him on Hampstead Heath that afternoon.

But Mr and Mrs Edwards have now filed a complaint with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after being unhappy with how their report was handled by police.

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Downing Street is now under pressure to prove that Mr Cummings was not in Durham on 19 April, and under growing calls to release the evidence.

A No 10 spokesman said: “Durham Constabulary have made clear they are not taking any further action against Mr Cummings and that by locating himself at his father’s premises he did not breach the regulations.

“The Prime Minister has said he believes Mr Cummings behaved reasonably and he considers the matter closed.”

A Durham Constabulary spokesman said: "As outlined in our statement of May 28, Durham Constabulary carried out an investigation into this matter led by a senior detective and found insufficient evidence to support the allegation."

Boris Johnson has been determined to cling on to his top aide, and refused to fire him despite calls from all sides of the political spectrum.

In an uncomfortable appearance before the Commons Liaison Committee shortly after the scandal, Mr Johnson told MPs he wanted the country to "move on".

But recently released figures show that Mr Cummings trip - when millions had been told to stay at home - drastically undermined public trust in the Government's handling of the pandemic.

The analysis, conducted by University College London (UCL), found the actions of the Prime Minister's chief adviser reduced people's willingness to follow social distancing rules.

Published in the Lancet, the research analysed 220,000 survey results from 40,000 participants in UCL's Covid-19 social study between April 24 and June 11.

Respondents were asked how much confidence they had in the Government's handling of the pandemic on a scale of one (none) to seven (a lot).

Among participants living in England, confidence dropped approximately 0.4 points on this scale between May 21 and 25.

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