The prime minister’s most senior advisor, Dominic Cummings, has come under fire after it was revealed he travelled from London to Durham with his wife, who had coronavirus symptoms, during the lockdown.
Here is what we know about the details of the controversy.
On 27 March, Downing Street confirmed that Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had tested positive for coronavirus.
Shortly after the announcement, Mr Cummings was seen running out of No 10.
On 30 March, Downing Street confirmed the top adviser was self-isolating at home after developing symptoms.
Mr Cummings, along with his wife, Mary Wakefield, and their child, later drove 260 miles from his home in London to County Durham to isolate – although the date of the trip is not clear.
However, Durham Constabulary said it was made aware on 31 March that an individual had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city.
A spokesman for the force said officers made contact with the owners of the address who confirmed the individual in question was present and was self-isolating in part of the house.
On 14 April, Mr Cummings was seen returning to Downing Street for the first time since isolating.
What were the lockdown rules?
At the time of Mr Cummings’ trip, the whole of the UK was in the “stay at home” part of lockdown.
This meant you were only allowed to leave the house to:
- Shop for basic necessities – namely food and medicine
- Carry out one form of exercise a day – alone or with members of your household
- Address a medical need
- Travel for work purposes
However, the government advice said, if you had symptoms, you had to stay isolated in your home for seven days from when the symptoms began, with any other members of the household having to isolate for 14 days in case they had contracted the virus.
You were not allowed to see family or friends from other households if you had symptoms and also told not to travel anywhere.
Asked on 10 April what you do if two parents are sick and you can’t look after your child, deputy chief medical officer for England, Jenny Harries, said: “Clearly if you have adults who are unable to look after a small child, that is an exceptional circumstance.
“And if the individuals do not have access to care support, formal care support, or to family, they will be able to work through their local authority hubs.”
What have Cummings and his wife said?
The only comment Mr Cummings has made since the story came out was to reporters outside his London address.
He said he had “behaved reasonably and legally”, and when asked whether it looked good, he said: “Who cares about good looks? It’s a question of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you guys think.”
Ms Wakefield – commissioning editor at the Spectator – wrote an article for the magazine during the pair’s isolation, describing their experiences of the virus.
She said that she “felt breathless, sometimes achy”, but that her husband had “collapsed… and couldn’t get out of bed.”
She wrote: “Day in, day out for 10 days he lay doggo with a high fever and spasms that made the muscles lump and twitch in his legs. He could breathe, but only in a limited, shallow way.”
Ms Wakefield also spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on 25 April about the couple’s experience, but did not say they had left their London home.
However, she has not commented on the latest revelations about where they isolated.
How have the government responded?
It said: “Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.
“His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed.
“His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside.”
No 10 said “at no stage” were Mr Cummings or his family spoken to by the police.
And the statement also said his actions had been “in line with coronavirus guidelines”, repeating Mr Cummings’ statement that he “behaved reasonably and legally”.
A number of cabinet ministers have tweeted their support for Mr Cummings, with many of them using the word “reasonable” to describe his actions.
The health secretary, Mr Hancock, tweeted: “I know how ill coronavirus makes you. It was entirely right for Dom Cummings to find childcare for his toddler, when both he and his wife were getting ill.”
How have others reacted?
Labour said Mr Cummings “appears to believe that it is one rule for him and another for the British people”.
A spokesman for the party said No 10’s statement about the chief adviser’s actions “raises more questions than it answers”, adding: “We are still unclear who knew about this decision and when, whether this was sanctioned by the prime minister and whether No 10 is now questioning the validity of the statement from Durham Police.”
They said they expected answers to these questions” at the government’s daily press briefing.
The SNP have called for Mr Cummings to be sacked and that both he and the PM “have serious questions to answer”.
The party’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, has written to the head of the Civil Service, Sir Mark Sedwill, calling for a “swift investigation into Dominic Cummings’ rule-breaking and the Tory government’s cover-up”.
Durham Police and Crime Commissioner, Steve White, said it had been “most unwise” for Mr Cummings to make the journey, “given the whole ethos” of the government’s guidance.