LONDON ? Dominic Cummings, a senior aide to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said at an extraordinary briefing in Downing Street he “acted reasonably” by driving to Durham during lockdown, and has no regrets.
Cummings was under intense pressure to resign after he drove some 260 miles to Durham and made another trip to the town of Barnard Castle while there.
A string of Tory MPs have called on the PM to sack his adviser, after they were inundated with complaints from the public who have been obeying the ‘stay at home regulations’ stringently.
But Cummings attempted to bat down criticism of his actions on Monday, telling reporters “I have not offered to resign,” adding, “I have not considered it.”
The adviser said fears over a lack of childcare for his four-year-old son, as well as concern that he and his ill wife were possibly infected with COVID-19, drove the decision.
He denies breaking the rules or the spirit of the rules.
Asked if he felt he owed an apology to the public, he said, “I don’t think I’m so different, and I don’t think there’s one rule for me and one rule for other people.
“As I said, I knew what the guidance was. It talks about exceptional circumstances with small children, and I think that in all the circumstances I behaved reasonably and legally as I said.”
He went on to say, “I do not regret what I did” but added that “reasonable people may well disagree.”
The press conference was hastily organized on Monday afternoon after Johnson refusing to sack Cummings and claiming his aide acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity” stoked further fury.
The former Vote Leave boss also confirmed that he went on a “short drive” to Barnard Castle because his eyesight had been affected by the disease and his wife did not want to risk the long drive back to London.
He said: “My wife was very worried, particularly as my eyesight seemed to have been affected by the disease.”
He added: “We did not visit the castle, we did not walk around the town.”
Cummings said that during his time in Durham “at no point did any of the three of us enter my parents’ house or sister’s house.”
He said their only exchanges were “shouted conversations at a distance” and his sister left shopping outside for them.
Addressing criticism from scores of families who felt they had to stick to the ‘stay at home’ advice issued by government, and Cummings said: “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.”
He said he also had concerns about his family’s safety as his home in London had become “a target.”
“The truth is that I had argued for lockdown, I did not oppose it but these stories had created a very bad atmosphere around my home, I was subjected to threats of violence, people came to my house shouting threats, there were posts on social media encouraging attacks.”
He also admitted he did not tell the prime minister, who had tested positive for coronavirus, about his decision.
Cummings said he was worried that “this situation would get worse” and that he “was worried about the possibility of leaving my wife and child at home all day and often into the night while I worked in Number 10.”
“I thought the best thing to do in all the circumstances was to drive to an isolated cottage on my father’s farm.”
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