Dominic Cummings showed signs of coronavirus infection when he was seen with his wife and family at several different locations hundreds of miles from his home in London.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is embroiled in a scandal after his top advisor was revealed to have broken lockdown rules in late March and April.
Newspapers revealed that Dominic Cummings had made a 260-mile long journey from London to Durham in northern England while he showed symptoms of possible coronavirus infection.
The journey occurred while the government’s official advice was to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel with fines issued for those who breach lockdown rules.
Johnson has defended his top aide, arguing that Cummings was driven by his ‘fatherly’ instinct to protect his child after developing symptoms by putting him under the care of his grandparents.
Many journalists though have cast doubt on the narrative put out by Downing Street, as Cummings was seen in multiple different locations in the north of England before returning to London in mid-April.
“Though there have been many other allegations about what happened when he was in self-isolation and thereafter, some of them palpably false, I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly and legally and with integrity and with the overwhelming aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives.” Johnson stated at a press conference on Sunday evening.
But that defence has not assuaged anger with more than 200,000 people signing a petition calling on the prime minister to sack his advisor.
Cummings faces possible police investigation after a resident filed a formal complaint over sighting of the prime minister’s aide in the northern town of Barnard Castle on April 12.
Former Durham police chief, Mike Barton, has condemned the government for being full of ‘self-privileged hypocrites’ in comments made to the Guardian newspaper, which with the Daily Mirror, broke the story.
“It is clear he has broken the rules. It could not be clearer. I cannot think of a worse example of a breach of the lockdown rules. For it then to be defended by the government just beggars belief,” Barton said.
That view reflected sentiment on social media where many argued there was one rule for ordinary people, who were subject to fines and legal action for lockdown violations.
On Twitter acting leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat party, Ed Davey, wrote: “PM confirms there is one rule for us & another for him & his friends Millions of people have made huge sacrifices to keep to the rules: he is treating them with contempt. The PM’s failure to act undermines his authority for the rest of the crisis.”
One notable act of rebellion came via the UK Civil Service Twitter account, where a rogue civil servant tweeted: “Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters.” Officials said they were investigating who was behind the tweet.
Many others have pointed out the stark contrast in the way a scientist advising the government on its coronavirus response was treated after breaking the lockdown order to visit a lover compared to Cummings. Neil Ferguson, resigned after political pressure stemming from the revelations.
Ferguson was instrumental in ensuring the British government introduced the lockdown on March 23.
The UK is the second-worst affected country in the world due to the coronavirus with 36,793 officially confirmed deaths.