The government's response to the mistakes made by Dominic Cummings over the last few days has been, frankly, abysmal. Had he simply apologised for bending the rules this issue would likely have blown over.
But now the government is willing to undermine its own public health advice, its own laws, all to protect one unelected special advisor from a little scrutiny. The UK already has one of the highest death tolls in the world because of poor decision-making, and now the government is willing to risk further damage by undermining the rules we currently have in place.
It's just not fair that law-abiding constituents like myself have had to avoid seeing grandparents, parents, children, nieces and nephews - even in the times they needed us most - only for the government to come out and suggest that we just didn't love them enough to bend the rules. What an insult to all the people who have made incredibly tough decisions for the greater good. To save lives.
I hope that you will issue a public statement distancing yourself from the government's reckless comments on this matter and use the opportunity to remind constituents in Kingswood of the current advice surrounding COVID-19 which, as far as I'm aware, continues to include restrictions on long-distance travel to relatives' houses.
Regards from your constituent,
Thank you for your email regarding the Prime Minister’s Adviser Dominic Cummings.
I have waited to reply until the facts of the case were clear, and the police investigation into the matter had concluded. This is a practice I have maintained ever since being elected as a MP, and will continue to do so.
I understand your frustration and anger at this situation. Millions of families have sacrificed so much to ensure that the spread of the virus has been contained, and it is important that we continue to do so. I know personally that this is a very difficult time for everyone, having close family members who are being shielded also.
As I mentioned, the investigation by Durham Police into the matter has now reported. In their statement, the police have stated:
On 27 March 2020, Dominic Cummings drove to Durham to self-isolate in a property owned by his father.
Durham Constabulary does not consider that by locating himself at his father’s premises, Mr Cummings committed an offence contrary to regulation 6 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. (We are concerned here with breaches of the Regulations, not the general Government guidance to “stay at home”.)
On 12 April 2020, Mr Cummings drove approximately 26 miles from his father’s property to Barnard Castle with his wife and son. He stated on 25 May 2020 that the purpose of this drive was to test his resilience to drive to London the following day, including whether his eyesight was sufficiently recovered, his period of self-isolation having ended.
Durham Constabulary have examined the circumstances surrounding the journey to Barnard Castle (including ANPR, witness evidence and a review of Mr Cummings’ press conference on 25 May 2020) and have concluded that there might have been a minor breach of the Regulations that would have warranted police intervention. Durham Constabulary view this as minor because there was no apparent breach of social distancing.
The full statement can be read here: https://www.durham.police.uk/news-and-events/Pages/News%20Articles/Durham-Constabulary-press-statement--.aspx
In addition, Dominic Cummings gave his account of his actions to the media, in a statement which can be read here: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/dominic-cummings-statement-speech-transcript-durham-full-text-read-lockdown-a9531856.html
Mr Cummings has stated that he entirely understands why people may disagree with how he acted. It is clear from the police statement that he has not broken the law, and that any breach of regulations was a minor one. The Prime Minister has stated that Dominic Cummings has his full support, and as his employer, the matter over Mr Cummings’ employment rests with him.
Personally, while I agree with the Prime Minister who regrets the pain and anger caused by the confusion, I do not believe that Dominic Cummings should resign. I have not called for any other resignations, nor passed comment on individual circumstances of those who have been highlighted in the media previously, and I do not feel that at a time when we must be focussing 100% on defeating Coronovirus, that people who have not explicitly broken the law should be sacked. Mr Cummings is employed by the Prime Minister, at the Prime Minister’s discretion, and decisions are ultimately taken by the Prime Minister. I continue to support the decision that the Prime Minister has taken, as I support and have confidence in his government, and will continue to do so.
Thank you again for contacting me. I understand that this is not the answer you may have wanted, but it is the view that I hold.
If you have mentioned specific questions in your email, regarding the guidance or local circumstances that you have asked for clarification on, I will be emailing you shortly to address these separately.
Chris Skidmore (as usual) has not fully addressed to concerns in my email - despite promising to email again "shortly" to address any concerns outside the scope of his initial copy & paste response. He effectively supports the government's response to Cummings' behaviour and does not distance himself from the government's damaging comments.