Boris Johnson should sack Dominic Cummings over his 264-mile lockdown Durham trip, according to the chair of a leading doctors’ association who has highlighted that medics are outraged at the actions of the prime minister’s top aide.
Dr Rinesh Parmar, the chair of the Doctors’ Association UK – a non-profit campaigning group that represents frontline NHS doctors – said either Cummings should resign or Johnson should show him the door.
Parmar said Johnson’s defence of his adviser risked undermining public trust and prompting people to use it as an excuse to break the rules themselves.
Downing Street is coming under increasing pressure over Cummings’s behaviour, first revealed by a joint Guardian and Daily Mirror investigation, as the adviser now faces a possible police investigation. Cummings, along with his wife and four-year-old son, travelled from his London home to his parents’ farm in Durham in late March despite lockdown rules advising people to stay at their primary residence. The couple have said they feared they may be incapacitated by coronavirus and thus struggle to look after their child. During his time in Durham, when non-essential journeys were banned, Cummings was spotted at Barnard Castle, a beauty spot 30 miles from the home of his parents, according to one witness.
Having already returned to London following his recovery from coronavirus, Cummings was seen again, according to a witness, going for a walk in the north-east later in April, suggesting he made a second trip. The prime minister defended his chief aide on Sunday, claiming he had acted responsibly and legally and describing some of the allegations – without specifying which – as “palpably false”.
But Parmar told the Guardian: “Boris Johnson should sack Dominic Cummings. Even better would be for Dominic Cummings to have the foresight to resign himself because of the impact of his actions on the rest of the country. Our worry is that people will think that it’s safe and perfectly legitimate to start ignoring the rules and moving around the country in the same way that Dominic Cummings has. That has a severe impact on the containment of the virus.
“Doctors are thankful that the public has been fantastic in listening to the rules set out by the government so far and that is what has allowed us to get control of the virus. But having one rule for Dominic Cummings and one rule for everybody else doesn’t inspire confidence amongst the public and doesn’t give them clear guidance about what they should do.”
Speaking before Cummings spoke to the press, he added: “We’ve seen on the frontline the real consequences of what happens when you don’t control the virus. That’s devastating for families who are denied access to hospitals to see their loved ones at the time when they need them the most.”
“The sense of feeling is really strong amongst doctors writing to us across our social media platforms. They are outraged, given what they’ve seen and had to endure over the last few months.”
Read the whole article by Simon Murphy in The Guardian here.