People 'using Dominic Cummings as an excuse to break lockdown', says police officer

Will Taylor
News Reporter
Dominic Cummings's actions are being used by people as an excuse to break lockdown rules, an officer has said. (Pool via AP)

A police officer has claimed people are using the Dominic Cummings controversy as an excuse to avoid lockdown rules.

A caller, identified as Scott, who says he has been policing in London, told LBC the controversy surrounding Boris Johnson’s senior adviser has already had an adverse effect on public compliance with the coronavirus restrictions.

Cummings is under fire and Tory MPs have called for him to go after it emerged he drove 260 miles from London to County Durham to self isolate with COVID-19 symptoms in March.

He also drove to Barnard Castle and got out for 15 minutes to sit by the river in a journey he said was to check his eyesight.

Lockdown rules at the time said you should only leave the house for essential reasons, like grocery shopping or exercise.

Cummings and Johnson have so far defied calls for the strategist to quit amid claims his actions had undermined the government’s messaging about lockdown.

Adjusted lockdown rules in England mean you can now meet up with someone from outside of your household, but cannot meet in groups of more than two and should maintain social distancing while doing so.

Asked if people had use the controversy as an excuse to break the rules, Scott told LBC: “There are three separate groups of people who have said to me today, ‘well if Dominic Cummings can do what he wants’.

“Actually, I think two people specifically said him, one person said the government, by which I automatically assume he’s talking about this, ‘(if the government) can do what they want then we should be able to too, so why are you bullying me Mr Officer?’ is kind of along the lines of the conversations that I’ve had today.”

Streets and parks have been busier, Scott added, which has at least in part been down to people being bored of remaining inside, he said.

But the PM’s senior aide’s actions have not helped his task.

Scott also said he did not see “how I can go to bed tonight knowing that I made people pay fines for breaching lockdown if it just seems that if you’re powerful and wealthy enough that you can do whatever you want”.

On Monday, Cummings insisted he did not regret his actions in an extraordinary press conference at Downing Street.

He repeatedly refused to apologise and said the regulations allowed him to travel because he was worried about his child’s welfare if he and his wife fell too severely ill with COVID-19.

Boris Johnson has also stood by him, insisting he could “not mark down” Cummings but adding on Monday that he regretted the “confusion and the anger” caused by the controversy.

A report from Bournemouth beach quoted one visitor as saying the situation had “encouraged” her to visit the seaside.

Tory MPs have openly called for Cummings to leave government while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would have sacked the ex-Vote Leave director if he had been prime minister.

Opposition parties, without Starmer, were due to meet on Tuesday morning to discuss how to proceed with the controversy, SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford has said.

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter

Read more about COVID-19

How to get a coronavirus test if you have symptoms
What you can and can’t do under lockdown rules
In pictures: How UK school classrooms could look in new normal
How public transport could look after lockdown
How our public spaces will change in the future

Help and advice

Read the full list of official FAQs here
10 tips from the NHS to help deal with anxiety
What to do if you think you have symptoms
How to get help if you've been furloughed