Police formally requested to investigate Dominic Cummings over #CumGateby Lucy Middleton
A police chief has formally written to Durham Constabulary asking them to ‘establish the facts’ about Dominic Cummings’ alleged journeys to the area during lockdown.
The Prime Minister’s most senior aide first travelled to Durham at the end of March after his wife began experiencing coronavirus symptoms. On March 31, officers said they were ‘made aware of reports that an individual had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city’.
He is then alleged to have broken lockdown restrictions to visit Barnard Castle, 30 miles away from his parents home, on April 12. Downing Street said he then returned to London on April 14, but another witness claims they saw him admiring the bluebells in the woods near Houghall, in County Durham, on April 19.
Steve White, acting Durham police and crime commissioner, has now written to Durham Constabulary’s chief constable Jo Farrell asking her to ‘establish the facts concerning any breach of the law or regulations’. He noted there was a ‘plethora of additional information’.
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In a statement, he said: ‘It is vital that the Force can show it has the interests of the people of County Durham and Darlington at its heart, so that the model of policing by consent, independent of government but answerable to the law, is maintained.
‘It will be for the Chief Constable to determine the operational response to this request and I am confident that with the resources at its disposal, the Force can show proportionality and fairness in what has become a major issue of public interest and trust.’
Mr Cummings travelled to Durham after coronavirus regulations were introduced in England on March 26. The new legislation made it officially an offence for people to leave their homes without ‘reasonable excuse’.
Using the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, police officers have the power to issue fines to anyone not following lockdown restrictions or forcibly return them to their homes.
The regulations do not clarify the exact definition of a ‘reasonable excuse’, although under lockdown rules at the time of Mr Cummings’ travel, people could only leave their homes for a limited amount of reasons, including exercise, food shopping or to go to work where essential.
Mr Cummings has denied any wrongdoing by travelling to Durham, stating that it was the ‘right thing’ for his family to do. He claims he had no alternative options for childcare amid concerns he and his wife were unwell.
His words were then echoed by Boris Johnson, who said during a press conference on Sunday that he believed Mr Cummings had behaved ‘responsibly, legally and with integrity’. He added that ‘some’ of the allegations about Mr Cummings’ behaviour were ‘palpably false’ and said he acted with the ‘overwhelming aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives’.
A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said today: ‘We can confirm that, over the last few days, Durham Constabulary has received further information and complaints from members of the public and we are reviewing and examining that information.’
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