A number plate noted down by an eyewitness who claims to have spotted Dominic Cummings 30 miles from his parents’ home has reportedly been confirmed as that of a car the adviser has got into in the past.
Robin Lees has told various media outlets that he saw someone he believed to be Boris Johnson’s aide on a family walk in Barnard Castle, County Durham, on Easter Sunday.
On Sunday the prime minister defended Cummings’ decision to drive 260 miles from London to Durham, saying he had acted “responsibly and legally and with integrity” and had no alternative.
Downing Street has claimed that Cummings made the journey with his wife, who was suffering from suspected COVID-19, and his son to make sure their child could be cared for by his sister and nieces if he and his wife became too ill.
But the claims surrounding the alleged trip to Barnard Castle suggest that the PM’s aide flouted lockdown restrictions further and have served to deepen anger over the controversy.
Retired teacher from Barnard Castle says saw man, he believes to be Mr Cummings, going for walk on April 12— Katerina Vittozzi (@kvittozzi) May 24, 2020
He says he noted car number plate
He contacted Guardian/Mirror after reading their reports on Fri
Sky News can confirm plate reg is that of a car DC has got into in past
Lees, a retired chemistry teacher, previously said that when he spotted Cummings he wrote down what he said was a “distinctive” number plate.
On Sunday evening Sky News said it could confirm that the registration was that of a car that Cummings had got into in the past.
The BBC also reported that Lees had told the broadcaster he stood by what he had told the Guardian and Mirror that he had seen.
Latest Dominic Cummings eyewitness - as reported in the Guardian & Mirror - tells the BBC I stand by what I saw 👇 pic.twitter.com/2CSVrDWMC2— Allie Hodgkins-Brown (@AllieHBNews) May 23, 2020
Allegations have also emerged that Cummings was seen in Houghall Woods near his parents’ home on 19 April, as well as the alleged walk in Barnard Castle the week before.
The walk alleged to have taken place on 12 April would have happened while Cummings should still have been self-isolating.
While he may not have needed to self-isolate the following week, going for a walk would not have been in line with strict government guidelines on travel and what was acceptable to do under lockdown.
During his briefing on Sunday evening, the prime minister did not deny claims that Cummings visited Barnard Castle in April.
Asked specifically about the allegation, Johnson told the Downing Street press conference: “I think when you look at the guidance, when you look at the particular childcare needs that Mr Cummings faced at the time, it was reasonable of him to self-isolate as he did for 14 days or more with his family where he did.
“I think that was sensible and defensible and I understand it.
“As for all the other allegations, I just repeat what I have said earlier on: I have looked at them carefully and I am content that at all times throughout his period in isolation, actually on both sides of that period, he behaved responsibly and correctly and with a view to defeating the virus and stopping the spread.”
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