May 28, 2020

Dominic Cummings - a legal perspective

It has been hard to ignore the commentary on Dominic Cummings’ recent actions. The Prime Minister’s most senior aide has been accused by many of breaking lockdown rules and not being in line with the spirit of the nation.

Many, will be asking whether Mr Cummings actually broke the law and how he might be held accountable.

On Wednesday 27th May, Boris Johnson told the Commons liaison committee that it was time to ‘move on’ and that he would not be recommending an independent inquiry into the actions of his aide. 

It has now been reported that an investigation carried out by Durham Police has concluded that Mr Cummings "might have breached lockdown rules" when he drove to Barnard Castle. The trip was made on Easter Sunday with his wife and four-year old son. He claims this journey was to check he was fit to drive having suffered eyesight difficulties.

While the aide insists he acted "lawfully and reasonably" this new information may add weight to the calls for him to resign.

Durham Police however said that they did not consider it a breach for him to isolate at his father's farm but the trip to Barnard Castle did constitute a "minor breach". They added that as it was minor and in line with their approach, they would not be taking further action as that could mean he would be treated differently from other members of the public.

The Lawyers

Chris Daw QC

Senior criminal Barrister and author Chris Daw QC posted a video on Youtube explaining his argument on the case and why he believes Dominic Cummings must resign

"It's a really simple case it seems to me, the coronavirus regulation was very clear, it said that you cannot leave your home without a reasonable excuse. The government's guidance to accompany that, which was sent out to every home in the country were equally clear"

"If people don't listen to the government because they think they are hypocrites.... more people will die"

"If it turns out that one of the most powerful people in the country.. has in fact decided to flout the law it matters because people will die as a result of not listening"

"It doesn't say unless there's a possibility that at some point you may need some childcare help, in which case you can drive anywhere you like... even if in fact you don't have a childcare need at the time you travel"

"The fact is he completely ignored that poster and that advice, and completely ignored the requirement that he stayed at home."

"Hundreds of people have lost their jobs or income, thousands have died from other health effects..."

"Mr Cummings - where was your home at the end of March? Did you live in London, was that your home? Or was your home in Durham? Because if your home was not in Durham, you broke the law and you broke the Government's own messaging and clear guidance that was being given to every citizen of this country"

"If this was all an entirely legitimate decision based around the welfare of your son, did you make anybody in government aware of your intention to travel up and down the country whilst carrying the virus? And if so, let's see the messages.... let's clear it all up"

"Let's see where you agreed, either in messages or emails or telephone, with a family member that they would take care of your son. Let's see the evidence of that before you travelled. Not the evidence when you got caught weeks later, but the evidence you were actually thinking about these things"

"If it was all so above board, let's just see the evidence that that was communicated to somebody, because it was a hell of a risk if you did it without communicating with someone"

"Are you seriously suggesting that you had concerns as to whether you were fit to drive, and you chose to drive to find out? Not only by yourself but you chose to drive with your wife and young child to do an eyesight test in live road conditions in the middle of lockdown whilst just days away from having been symptomatic or potentially still being symptomatic with coronavirus."

"Mr Cummings if you consider that to be reasonable, then your judgement is so poor that you have no place at the centre of our government and you have no place advising our Prime Minister and you should resign."

Matthew Ryder QC

A senior barrister Matthew Ryder QC has made comment about Mr Cummings’ actions in a series of tweets before the latest update

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