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Dominic Cummings has admitted he did not tell the whole truth over his lockdown journeys to Durham, apologised for his handling of the “debacle”, and said he now wishes he had never gone to Barnard Castle.
In evidence to MPs on Wednesday, the prime minister’s former chief aide said his account of the trips given in the No 10 rose garden a year ago failed to disclose fully a plan to move his family out of their London home for security reasons, with Boris Johnson’s agreement.
Cummings said he and Johnson initially agreed to “stonewall” questions from the media when the Guardian and Daily Mirror revealed the Durham journeys. But after days of pressure, Johnson told him “this line won’t hold”, and he would have to give a press conference, Cummings told MPs.
He said: “The prime minister got that wrong. I got that wrong … I know that my misjudgement on it caused huge trouble. And I deeply apologise for it.”
Jeremy Hunt, chair of the health select committee, suggested it was “crazy” to try to test his eyesight by driving his family to Barnard Castle on 12 April, his wife’s birthday.
Cummings said: “I can completely understand why people think the whole thing was weird. Obviously I wish I’d never heard of Barnard Castle and I wish I’d never gone … I can only apologise for the whole debacle.”
In the rose garden statement, Cummings did mention security concerns as one of the reasons for travelling to Durham on 27 March when he and his wife had suspected coronavirus. On Wednesday, he revealead that in autumn 2019 he had to move out of his flat for six weeks because of security threats. And on 28 February 2019, his wife called to say: “There’s a gang of people outside saying they’re going to break into the house and kill everybody inside.”
Cummings said he spoke to Johnson about the threats and it was agreed his family should be moved to government accommodation or to stay with relatives. “Almost nobody in No 10 knew about it for obvious reasons because I didn’t want the same problems to pop up at my parents’ house up in Durham,” he said.
Cummings claimed it was “completely false” to suggest police had talked to him for breaking lockdown rules. At the time, Durham police said: “Officers explained to the family the guidelines around self-isolation and reiterated the appropriate advice around essential travel.”
Cummings admitted his actions were “a case study of how not to handle something like this”. He also claimed he was talked out of resigning “by the cabinet secretary and by other senior people”.
In his rose garden statement Cummings denied a claim, since backed up by three more people, that he travelled to Durham a second time on 19 April. In the rose garden he claimed that he had evidence to prove this was untrue.
On Wednesday, Cummings made no mention of that evidence, and while he suggested claims of a second trip by him were false, he conceded he did move his family back up to Durham a second time.
He said: “I stress that the further stories about me going back are false. It is true that I moved my wife and child back out of London despite the Covid rules but that was in discussion with the police. I did not leave London and all of these stories about me being elsewhere and me going off or whatever, those stories are all categorically false but it is true that I’ve moved my family again.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Dominic Cummings says he did not tell whole truth about journeys to Durham | Dominic Cummings