Police have rubbished Downing Street’s claim that officers did not speak to Dominic Cummings’s family for breaking lockdown rules.
Number 10’s version of events began to unravel last night when Durham Constabulary released a contradictory statement revealing it has contacted the political aide’s father.
Boris Johnson’s senior adviser travelled to his parents farm in the North East to self-isolate with his wife and child, sparking accusations of flouting and demands he resign.
His ex-brother-in-law last night rode to his defence by insisting it was ‘very, very easy’ for the Number 10 chief to hole up at his parents’ home.
Matthew Herriott, a farmer who lives close to North Lodge, said that the property includes a number of self-contained apartments attached to the main building, which are only accessible via a separate entrance.
Under fire: Dominic Cummings and his wife Mary Wakefield leaving home yesterday
It meant that Mr Cummings, his wife Mary Wakefield and their young son were able to stay in the £800,0000 sandstone farmhouse without coming into contact with his parents, Morag and Robert.
Yet it did not stop police from making enquiries into why the Downing Street adviser had travelled 264 miles to the farm during lockdown.
No 10 had said this morning: ‘At no stage was he [Mr Cummings] or his family spoken to about this matter, as is being reported,’ and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that statement was ‘black and white’ at the daily Downing Street briefing.
But in a statement released on Saturday night, the force said: ‘Following a significant number of media inquiries over the weekend, Durham Constabulary can add the following detail.
‘On Tuesday, March 31, our officers were made aware that Dominic Cummings had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city.
‘At the request of Mr Cummings’ father, an officer made contact the following morning by telephone.
‘During that conversation, Mr Cummings’ father confirmed that his son had travelled with his family from London to the North-East and was self-isolating in part of the property.
‘Durham Constabulary deemed that no further action was required. However, the officer did provide advice in relation to security issues.’
The property includes a number of self-contained apartments attached to the main building, which are only accessible via a separate entrance
In a statement yesterday, Downing Street insisted Mr Cummings’s sister shopped for the family and left everything outside the doo
There are also outbuildings on the estate where guests are believed to stay from time to time.
In a statement yesterday, Downing Street insisted Mr Cummings’s sister shopped for the family and left everything outside the door.
‘North Lodge is without question big enough to accommodate that amount of people,’ Mr Herriott told The Mail on Sunday. ‘It’s one building but it’s split into separate apartments so it’s very, very easy for everyone to self-isolate.
‘It has several extensions, if you will, so it’s more than adequate to live there and not to have any contact with anybody whatsoever. It is also set in an acre of grounds I believe.’
Mr Cummings’s father bought the property in 1999 after retiring from the oil industry.
Mr Cummings, who is now co-owner of North Lodge with his father, came under fire last year after it emerged that his family had received £235,000 in EU farming subsidies.
There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing. It is believed he became an owner of the cottage in 2002 after leaving his job as the Conservative Party’s head of strategy.
According to a profile of Mr Cummings by the Conservative Home website, after quitting the job, ‘he then proceeded to spend two and a half years in a bunker he and his father built for him on their farm in Durham, reading science and history and trying to understand the world’.
Source: Daily Mail