British police say Johnson aide Cummings made ‘minor’ lockdown breach

Dominic Cummings, special adviser to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leaves his home in London, UK, on May 28, 2020.
Dominic Cummings, special adviser to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leaves his home in London, UK, on May 28, 2020. © Henry Nicholls, REUTERS

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s adviser likely broke the government’s coronavirus regulations by traveling during lockdown, but will not face further action, police said Thursday.

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The adviser, Dominic Cummings, has acknowledged driving 250 miles (400 km) to his parents’ house in Durham, northeast England, at the end of March and later taking another drive to a scenic town 30 miles (50 km) away.

Durham Constabulary said the drive to Durham did not breach the rules but the second trip, to the town of Barnard Castle, might have been “a minor breach” of lockdown rules “that would have warranted police intervention.”

The force said that had Cummings been stopped by an officer at the time he would likely have been ordered to turn around, but “there is no intention to take retrospective action.”

More than 14,000 people in Britain have been fined by police for violating a ban on all but essential travel that was imposed March 23 to help slow the spread of the virus.

Johnson has resisted calls to fire Cummings, his most senior aide and the architect of the Conservative Party’s December election victory, for apparently flouting restrictions that the government imposed on the rest of the country.

Cummings has defended his actions, saying he traveled to ensure that his 4-year-old son could be looked after if he and his wife, who both had coronavirus symptoms, became sick. He says he drove to Barnard Castle to test whether his eyesight, which had been affected by illness, was good enough for the long trip back to London.

Cummings’ explanation failed to assuage the anger among many Britons who have endured two months of isolation from loved ones during the pandemic and see a double standard at work.

More than 30 lawmakers in Johnson’s Conservative Party have called on Cummings to resign, citing an outpouring of fury from their constituents.

Johnson has stood by his aide. His office said, “The police have made clear they are taking no action against Mr. Cummings over his self-isolation and that going to Durham did not breach the regulations.”

It said the prime minister “regards this issue as closed.”

(AP)

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