UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top adviser, Dominic Cummings, has defended his actions after receiving widespread criticism for traveling more than 250 miles (402 kilometers) from his London home during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, telling reporters on Monday that he traveled to Durham to ensure the welfare of his child.
“I thought, and I think today, that the rules, including those regarding small children and extreme circumstances, allowed me to exercise my judgment about the situation I found myself in,” Cummings said during the televised briefing.
“I can understand that some people will argue that I should have stayed at my home in London throughout. I understand these views, I know the intense hardship and sacrifice the entire country has had to go through, however I respectfully disagree.”
Cummings also told reporters that he believes his actions were “reasonable in these circumstances,” detailing the series of events which preceded his decision to leave London.
“I was worried that if both my wife and I were seriously ill, possibly hospitalized, there is nobody in London that we could reasonably ask to look after our child and expose themselves to Covid,” the Prime Minister’s adviser said.
“I don’t regret what I did…I think what I did was actually reasonable in these circumstances.”
Some context: Following an investigation by the Mirror and Guardian newspapers, Cummings was revealed to have traveled to Durham – more than 250 miles from his home in London – during the lockdown, despite his wife having developed symptoms of coronavirus.
While Johnson has offered his support for Cummings, saying on Sunday that he believes his adviser acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity,” Cummings confirmed on Monday that he did not inform the Prime Minister of his decision prior to leaving for Durham.
“I did not ask the Prime Minister about this decision. He was ill himself, and he had huge problems to deal with…I thought that I would speak to him when the situation clarified over coming days,” Cummings said.
“Arguably this was a mistake and I understand that some will say that I should have spoken to the Prime Minister before deciding what to do.”