British prime minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, has insisted breaking the lockdown rules amid the nation’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic was necessary.
Cummings drove more than 250 miles from London earlier this year, to take his family to Durham after his wife had Covid-19 symptoms. He did not tell Johnson he was going to make the trip.
“I know the intense hardship and sacrifice that the entire country has had to go through. However, I respectfully disagree. The legal rules inevitably do not cover all circumstances, including those that I found myself in,” Cummings said in a statement.
“I thought and I think today that the rules, including those regarding small children in extreme circumstances, allowed me to exercise my judgment about the situation I found myself in, including the way that my London home had become a target — and all the complexity of the situation.
“I accept, of course, that there is room for reasonable disagreement about this. I could also understand some people think I should not have driven at all anywhere.
“But I had taken medical expert medical advice. It was 15 days after symptoms. I’d been told that I could return to work and employ childcare. I think it was reasonable and sensible to make a short journey before embarking on a five-hour drive to see whether I was in a fit state to do this.
“The alternative was to stay in Durham rather than going back to work and contributing to the government’s efforts. I believe I made the right judgment, though I can understand that others may disagree with that.
“I’ve explained all of the above to the Prime Minister. At some point during the first week where we were both sick and in bed, I mentioned to him what I had done. Unsurprisingly, given the condition we were in, neither of us remember the conversation in any detail. I did not make my movements public at the time because my London home was already a target.
“I did not believe that I was obliged to make my parents’ and my sister’s home a target for harassment as well. I understand that millions of people have seen media coverage of this issue. I know that millions have endured awful hardship, including personal tragedies, over the past few months, and people are suffering every day.
“And I know the British people hate the idea of unfairness. I wanted to explain what I thought, what I did and why, over this period, because I think that people like me who helped to make the rules should be accountable for their actions.
Cummings has faced significant criticism for his actions. Several Conservative MPs have insisted he resign.
The government has confirmed the number of coronavirus-related deaths has risen to 36,914.