Dominic Cummings 'dressed like a GP' and his 'weak vocal tone while sitting forward in chair hinted at humility' but his 'discomfort increased at mention of Barnard Castle', says body language expert JUDI JAMESby Faith Ridler For Mailonline
- Judi James said Prime Minister's top aide had 'an air of low-key humility' today
- Mr Cummings appeared 'nervous and uncomfortable' during press conference
- She added discomfort appeared to increase when Barnard Castle mentioned
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Dominic Cummings hinted at humility outside Downing Street today while his discomfort level 'increased at the mention of Barnard Castle', a body language expert has revealed.
Judi James said the Prime Minister's top aide appeared nervous and uncomfortable as he addressed the nation after facing calls to resign over accusations he ignored coronavirus rules to travel north in March.
Speaking at the Downing Street Rose Garden, Mr Cummings refused to apologise for driving 260 miles to Durham during the lockdown as he claimed he had always behaved 'reasonably and legally'.
Mr Cummings added his decision to travel to his parents' land was the result of a 'very complicated, tricky situation', as he admitted he had not sought Boris Johnson's permission to make the five-hour journey.
The body language expert told MailOnline that although Mr Cummings' facial expressions have 'always tended to overshare in photos' - his 'voice, tone and professional manner' were unveiled to most of the public for the first time today.
'The version of Cummings that we got in the Rose Garden seemed very much like a man playing against his own stereotype of the Downing Street maverick,' she said.
'Dressed like a visiting GP there was an air of low-key humility exuding from his often-weak vocal tone and the way he sat at a table, often leaning forward and self-diminishing to suggest low status.'
The expert added his habits of scratching his left arm, swallowing hard and licking his lips as he recounted his journey from a script 'appeared to suggest some traces of nerves'.
'His knees were splayed in a suggestion of confidence but his feet were crossed at the ankle and when he did uncross them his feet were pushed backward and wound around the legs of the chair to suggest discomfort,' Judi added. 'At one point one leg even seemed to be trying to make an early exit.'
His discomfort appeared to increase when Barnard Castle was mentioned, she added, after accusations Mr Johnson's adviser had taken a trip to the market town in Teesdale alongside his wife, Mary Wakefield.
Mr Cummings claimed in the extraordinary press conference he had travelled to the beauty spot to test his eye sight before embarking on the five-hour drive home to London.
'His discomfort signals seemed to increase when Barnard Castle was mentioned, when his tongue-pokes began to look like signals of rejection rather than nerves and he shifted in his seat several times,' the expert added.
'Cummings side-stepped any performances of an apology or thoughts of regret though, meaning there were no body language "moments" where his signals could have been seen as over-acted or insincere.'
She added that Mr Cummings' tone 'remained modest' but his 'pen-picking increased as did his stuttering as he tried to frame his thoughts.'
'His eyes remained on the table when he said he had not offered to resign but as the questions went on some accelerated blink rate suggested he was becoming impatient,' Judi said.
Speaking in the Downing Street Rose Garden this afternoon, the Prime Minister's top aide said he did 'not regret' travelling 260 miles to Durham with his son and wife.
Mr Cummings, who has faced pressure to resign since news of the trip emerged on Saturday, said he faced a 'tricky situation' with childcare but believed he 'behaved reasonably and legally'.
He also admitted he drove 30 miles from Durham to Barnard Castle while staying on his parents' land, but said he did so to test his ability to drive well before making the five-hour trip to London.
The adviser added he had not asked the Prime Minister about his decision to travel north with his family and admitted this was 'arguably a mistake'.
He said: 'I did not ask the Prime Minister about this decision. He was ill himself and he had huge problems to deal with. Every day I have to exercise my judgement about things like this and decide what to discuss with him.
'I thought that I would speak to him when the situation clarified over the coming days, including whether I had symptoms and whether there were tests available.
'Arguably this was a mistake and I understand that some will say that I should have spoken to the Prime Minister before deciding what to do.'
Mr Cummings said that on April 2, during his time in isolation, his son had felt unwell and was taken to hospital in an ambulance.
'I could barely stand up, my wife went with him in the ambulance, I stayed at home, he stayed the night in hospital,' he said.
Mr Cummings said that in the morning his wife called to say their son had recovered and could return home. He then drove to the hospital to pick them up but did not leave the car.
He also said as he was recovering he went for a walk in the woods next to the cottage they were staying at which was private land and while they saw people in the distance they had no interaction with anyone.
He denied that he had broken the 'spirit' of the lockdown rules and that he had been 'trying to balance lots of competing things'.
Meanwhile, Mr Cummings claimed he did not stop for fuel on the way up to Durham but he had stopped once on the way back.
He said: 'Yesterday I gave a full account to the Prime Minister of my actions between March 27 and April 14, what I thought and did.
The key revelations from Dominic Cummings during today's press conference
Dominic Cummings today:
Admitted driving to Durham at the end of March but denied stopping for fuel or anything else on the way up
Admitted taking a drive to Barnard Castle on April 12 - to test his eye sight before a 260 drive back to London
He claimed this hour round-trip to the beauty spot was 'reasonable and sensible' before 'embarking on a five hour drive' back to the capital
Insisted that he and his family had not walked around the town 30 miles from Durham and had only ventured 15 metres from the car to the river bank
Admitted driving to the hospital to pick up his wife and son but did not leave the car or come into contact with anyone on the way.
Denied a reported second trip to the north on April 19, when he was allegedly spotted in woods near Durham
Said he stayed 50m from his parents' home and did not go nearer it while self-isolating
Asked if he had offered to quit he said: 'No I have not offered to resign, no I have not considered it.'
Refused to apologise but said: 'I don't think I'm so different and I don't think there is one rule for me and one rule for other people … I believe I have behaved reasonably and legally'
Blamed inaccurate reporting for the 'anger' that he is facing, including people shouting at him outside his home
Claimed: 'If you have got a child that's four years old and neither of you can look after him, the guidance doesn't say ''you have just got to sit there''.
'He has asked me to repeat that account directly to you. I know that millions of people in this country have been suffering, thousands have died, many are angry about what they have seen in the media about my actions.
'I want to clear up the confusions and misunderstandings that I can. In retrospect I should have made this statement earlier.'
Mr Cummings said he had decided to leave London after he was subject to 'threats of violence' and that he did not want to leave his family alone at home while he went to work in Number 10. He was also concerned that if he and his wife got coronavirus at the same time there would be nobody to look after their four-year-old son.
The Government's rule book for special advisers expressly states that aides 'must not take public part in political controversy, through any form of statement' but Mr Cummings seemingly felt it was necessary to try to set the record straight.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said it was 'absolutely outrageous' for Mr Cummings to be given 'preferential treatment' as she jibed 'anybody would think he's the unelected PM'.
Mr Johnson is facing an increasingly furious backlash from ministers, Tory MPs and even bishops after he yesterday attempted to mount an extraordinary defence of Mr Cummings.
The premier has effectively staked his political reputation on trying to protect Mr Cummings but the calls for the adviser to be sacked continue to grow. One cabinet minister claimed the PM had 'sacrificed his own credibility' to 'save' Mr Cummings.
At a dramatic press conference in Downing Street last night, the Prime Minister claimed his chief aide had acted 'responsibly, legally and with integrity' while making the controversial 260-mile trip from London to Durham during lockdown.
Mr Johnson insisted Mr Cummings had 'followed the instincts of every father' by driving to his parents' farm after his wife developed symptoms of coronavirus.