Dominic Cummings’ strident defence of his own behaviour was designed to draw a line under an affair that has rocked the government and caused fury across the UK. But his press conference left questions unanswered – and also caused a degree of bafflement.
1 Why not try other options?
Dominic Cummings and his wife, Mary Wakefield, have family in London. But he said that they explored no other options before settling on their trip to Durham. Why not?
2 The Durham hospital trip
Did Cummings consider whether there was any risk that his wife’s trip to hospital in Durham with the couple’s son could take Covid-19 on to the site? Did he consider whether the difficulty of getting an immediate taxi was sufficient reason for him to drive to the hospital when he could “barely stand up” the night before?
3 The eyesight problem
If Cummings had concerns over whether his eyesight was good enough to drive to London, why was he confident enough to drive 30 miles to Barnard Castle, with his wife and son in the vehicle?
4 How extreme was the risk?
The deputy chief medical officer for England, Jenny Harries, said that the only reason to travel with coronavirus in search of childcare was if there was an extreme risk to life. Did the family’s situation constitute such a risk?
5 Why not talk to the media earlier?
Cummings said that the media had been told things were wrong but “repeatedly reported them anyway”. How does he reconcile this account with Downing Street’s refusal to engage with attempts by the Guardian and Daily Mirror to seek comment for more than six weeks? Why did Downing Street only issue comments after the publication of key articles by the two newspapers?
6 When was the walk in Durham?
Cummings said that he took a walk in the second week of his stay in Durham “after I started to recover”. That would suggest he still had some symptoms. The Public Health England guidance on outdoor exercise changed that week and by 9 April all outdoor exercise was prohibited for those with symptoms. So when exactly did the walk take place?