Police confirmed they attended a property in County Durham after it emerged that Dominic Cummings, who is Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, travelled more than 260 miles from his London home during the lockdown. It was suggested he stayed with relatives while he and members of his immediate family were suffering from coronavirus-related symptoms. The SNP MP called on Boris Johnson to fire his chief adviser but as he claimed he should follow the example of Neil Ferguson and Catherine Calderwood who resigned after breaching the rules, BBC host Naga Munchetty was forced to correct him.
Mr Blackford said: “I think a lot of people will be saying how is it that the Prime Minister’s chief adviser has been able to behave this way and getting away from it?
“Let’s not forget that there have been other senior figures through this whole saga that when they broke the rules had to go.
“Neil Ferguson had to go, Catherine Calderwood, the chief medical officer in Scotland, had to go.”
To which the BBC host basted: “But those were instances of visiting a second home and a relationship by crossing households.
“This is not that.”
He replied: “No, but this is a serious breach of Government guidelines.”
In an interview earlier on Saturday, Mr Blackford said there were “serious questions” for Mr Johnson to answer.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Blackford said: “What I find interesting is that (according to reports) members of Downing Street knew about this so, first and foremost, Boris Johnson has serious questions to answer over what now appears to be a cover-up.
“The Prime Minister must explain exactly when he knew about the breaking of the rules, whether he sanctioned it, why Cummings wasn’t sacked immediately and why it appears that he tried to cover it up, not telling the public until the newspaper(s) broke the story, eight weeks later, last night.”
But Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove, who used to employ Mr Cummings, spoke out on his behalf, tweeting: “Caring for your wife and child is not a crime.”
Dominic Cummings has insisted “I behaved reasonably and legally” and when asked by reporters if his trip to Durham during lockdown looked good, said: “Who cares about good looks. It’s a question of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you guys think.”
Opposition MPs have accused Number 10 of a “cover-up” and called for the Prime Minister’s top aide to resign after it emerged that he had driven 260-miles despite the guidelines on travelling.
But in a statement, Downing Street said his actions were in line with guidelines and said reports that his family were spoken to by police were incorrect.
The statement 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.
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“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.
“At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported.
“His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.”
Durham Constabulary said in a statement on Friday that officers contacted the owners of a property in County Durham on March 31, more than a week after the lockdown had been imposed by the PM.
A spokesman said: “On Tuesday, March 31, our officers were made aware of reports that an individual had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city.
“Officers made contact with the owners of that address who confirmed that the individual in question was present and was self-isolating in part of the house.
“In line with national policing guidance, officers explained to the family the arrangements around self-isolation guidelines and reiterated the appropriate advice around essential travel.”