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Gavin Williamson claims Dominic Cummings broke no law or lockdown rule

Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves his house in London following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, is seen leaving his house this morning (Picture: Reuters)

The Education Secretary has said Dominic Cummings should not resign ‘because he has made it clear that he’s broken no rules and he’s broken no laws’.

Gavin Williamson is the latest Cabinet minister to defend Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, who is facing mounting pressure to resign after it emerged he travelled 260 miles to Durham to self-isolate with his family.

Mr Williamson said it is his ‘understanding’ from the PM that Mr Cummings and his family did not break the law.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘(The Prime Minister) has been absolutely categorically assured that both Dominic Cummings and his family both followed the guidance and also followed the rules…

‘The guidance is incredibly extensive and at the heart of that guidance is always the issue of safeguarding children and making sure that children are always absolutely protected.

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‘My understanding is from what the Prime Minister said yesterday… is that at every stage Dominic Cummings followed and his family followed the guidance and at no stage did Dominic Cummings or his family break the law.’

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But is this actually true? Did Mr Cummings break the law?

When the PM announced a nationwide lockdown on March 23, he told the nation: ‘I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home.’

Police confirmed Mr Cummings definitely broke this key guidance as officers spoke to Mr Cummings’ father about him being in Durham on March 31, after the regulations came into force in England on March 26.

The chief adviser also broke the guidance on not travelling anywhere else to self-isolate.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 made it an offence to leave your home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, giving police the power to issue fines and forcibly return people who refused to comply.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of risking the Government's efforts to combat Covid-19 in order to defend his senior aide following allegations he breached lockdown restrictions. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday May 25, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Dominic Cummings is surrounded by photographers as he leaves his north London home (Picture: PA)

Had Mr Cummings been stopped by police on his way to Durham, according to the regulations, officers could have fined him and directed him back to London.

Travelling to work, shopping for necessities, and doing exercise are listed as reasonable excuses to be outside, but the actual definition of ‘reasonable excuse’ is not clearly defined by the regulations.

The deputy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries, explained on Saturday that an ‘extreme risk to life’ would fit a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave your home.

She said: ‘If you’re symptomatic, you stay at home, take yourself out of society as quickly as you can and stay there, unless there’s extreme risk to life.’

Downing Street said the PM’s top aide made the trip to Durham apparently because he feared that he and his wife, who had coronavirus symptoms, would be left unable to care for their son.

A No10 statement said the trip ‘was essential … to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.’

But this seemingly contradicts the Government’s own ‘Covid-19 essential travel guidance’, which states: ‘Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, campsites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays.

‘People must remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.’

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