In recent days, I have received hundreds of emails from constituents regarding the actions of Dominic Cummings. I understand your anger and frustrations, especially given the personal difficulties and sacrifices that have been made by many people to reduce the spread of the virus. Please be assured that your points have been noted and I have raised those concerns with the Prime Minister.
Rather than comment immediately, I chose to wait until Mr Cummings had offered an explanation and I had considered the available facts. This statement outlines my opinion on this matter and my resolve to move on and focus on the national challenge COVID-19 presents.
In his statement on Monday 25 May 2020, Mr Cummings offered an account of his reasons for travelling to Durham. I will not repeat the details here as the statement has been covered extensively elsewhere. Having listened to Mr Cummings’ statement – and considered the available facts, Government guidance and statements from Dr Jenny Harries – I personally believe he did not breach the lockdown guidelines. His account of his journey to Durham makes clear that he did everything possible to isolate – and protect – himself and his family whilst travelling and staying on his parents’ farm. Whilst I do question his decision to drive to Barnard Castle, and would not have taken the same course of action, I believe that Mr Cummings acted in the best interests of his family. It is clear that he was motivated by the need to keep his son safe, should anything happen to him or his wife, and I sympathize with this.
I understand that not everyone will agree with my opinion, but I fundamentally believe in due process. It is ultimately for the police to consider the evidence and determine whether Mr Cummings’ actions were outside these lockdown rules – not other MPs, the media or general public. If Mr Cummings has breached the lockdown rules, action must be taken as we are all equal in the eyes of the law. As other MPs have concluded, I would be shocked if a constituent advised me that they were receiving violent threats, being hounded by the media and pressured to resign from their job because of allegations they had fully denied. The fundamental principles of due process, being innocent until proven guilty and equality in the eyes of the law cannot be overlooked. If Mr Cummings is found to be guilty of a breach of these rules, my views on this matter will be different.
It is clear that there has been also misinformation about Mr Cummings (and other MPs, advisors and officials) circulating and this needs to stop. There have been rumours that I have been travelling between Broxtowe and Wiltshire; these are unfounded and untrue. Like many of you, the lockdown restrictions have required personal sacrifices from me. I have not seen vulnerable members of my family for months. I was especially shocked to see journalists coming to my home to question me on this made up story. I do not believe anybody – regardless of their occupation – should be subject to such behaviour. To confirm, I have remained in Broxtowe and have fully complied with all lockdown requirements.
I appreciate the difficult sacrifices that people across Broxtowe, and the country, are making to stay safe and save lives. Going forward, I do not think it is wise to continue to debate the actions of one advisor. My team and I will continue to work relentlessly to support constituents, especially those most adversely impacted by this virus, as we approach the next phase of our fight against COVID-19. As ever, if I may be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.