Dominic Cummings admits 'mistake' but says he has 'no regrets' over lockdown trip


Dominic Cummings has confirmed he did not tell the UK prime minister Boris Johnson about his drive to Durham and admitted he made "a mistake".

The Prime Minister's right-hand man insisted he had done nothing wrong after being accused of breaking lockdown rules three times.

Cummings said he thought he had COVID-19 and left London after threats of violence with his wife and four-year-old son – making a 260-mile trip to stay at a cottage on his parents' land.

He confirmed he did not consult Boris Johnson before the journey, because the prime minister "was ill himself" and had "huge problems to deal with".

He told reporters: "Arguably this was a mistake, and I understand that some will say I should have spoken to the PM before deciding what to do”.

Johnson has ignored mounting pressure to sack Cummings amid uproar over revelations he left his London home while sick with COVID-19.

Cummings also admitted he travelled to the town of Barnard Castle on April 12 after the end of his period in self-isolation.

He and his family sat by the riverbank for 15 minutes, and they wished a passerby “happy easter” while returning to the car.

Cummings said they spent some time in the woods in the way home as his child needed the toilet, but insisted they did not break any social distancing rules.

However, he said allegations he returned to Durham for a second visit after April 14 are “false”.

There has been speculation that in holding a press conference, Cummings will be in breach of the Special Advisers' Code of Conduct, which states advisers "must not take public part in political controversy through any form of statement", including in "speeches or letters to the press".

On Friday an investigation by the Mirror and Guardian revealed that Cummings, 48, travelled a substantial distance north with his wife and young son in late March.

During the time when Downing Street claimed he was self-isolating at home in London, Cummings was in fact in Durham with his elderly parents.

Over the weekend, it was reported Cummings broke lockdown not once but twice as he left his family home to visit Barnard Castle.

Now Durham Police have been formally asked to investigate whether Cummings broke the law.

Both the public and government officials have demanded his resignation, with protesters gathering outside his London home.

The political campaign group Led By Donkeys parked a van outside with a huge screen playing footage of Johnson telling Brits to "stay home" and prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Johnson defended his adviser in his Sunday press conference, insisting Cummings acted "responsibly, legally and with integrity" in seeking childcare from his parents when he and his wife were ill – despite having other family in London.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said Johnson's failure to act was "an insult to sacrifices made by the British people" during the pandemic, while many Conservative MPs have also demanded Cummings step down.

Earlier today a coronavirus doctor accused Cummings of "spitting on the NHS" by breaching the lockdown.

"If he doesn't resign, I will," Dr Dominic Pimento said.