Thursday 28 May 2020

Cummingsgate: a letter to the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner

As ever with the Dominic Cummings affair, every new statement from the authorities raises more questions than it answers. Durham Police now say Mr Cummings 'may' have committed a 'minor' breach of the lockdown with his notorious 'eye-test' journey to Barnard Castle.

This has prompted me to email Steve White, Durham's (elected) Acting Police and Crime Commissioner. ( 

Dear Commissioner,
We all have an interest in trying to halt the spread of coronavirus, and so I have followed the matter of Dominic Cummings' journey to Durham closely. It prompts a number of questions.
1. Just before Mr Cummings' press conference, Durham Police changed their account of the contact they had had with him when he first appeared in Durham, revising it to say that when police officers saw him, they had discussed only matters of security. So, a family appears in Durham, where there is very little coronavirus, from another part of the country where there is a lot. Some of the family are ill (it is hard to know how many because the accounts from Mr Cummings and his wife are inconsistent). And the police officers don't ask any questions about what they're doing there? Or investigate whether they are in breach of lockdown rules? Is this properly discharging their duty to the people of Durham?
2. Over the last few days, while everyone knew there was a live police investigation into Mr Cummings, numerous cabinet ministers and Conservative MPs made prejudicial comments, asserting that Mr Cummings was innocent. By accident or design, this plainly puts pressure on Durham Police. Is prejudicial comment of this kind consistent with ministerial and/or MPs' codes of conduct?
3. Durham Police's statement refers to a 'minor' breach of the lockdown rules. There is surely no such thing, it is a breach or it isn't. Are you concerned that the police have been drawn into 'spinning' material for political reasons rather than objectively stating what they see as the truth?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely,
John Withington

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