PRIME minister Boris Johnson has defended his chief aide Dominic Cummings over allegations he broke the UK government's coronavirus lockdown rules.

Speaking at today's daily Downing Street press conference, the PM said Mr Cummins acted "responsibly, legally, and with integrity" when he visited family in north east England.

The PM announced the latest Covid-19 statistics for the UK, with the death toll rising by 118 to 36,793 people.

Another 2,409 people had tested positive for the virus, he added, and the number of Covid-19 patients in the UK's hospitals was down 11 per cent on this time last week.


MPs had been baying for Mr Johnson to dispense with Mr Cummings after it emerged he had travelled in March to self-isolate with his family while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys, but Mr Johnson said Mr Cummings "followed the instincts of any parent" by travelling to find "the right kind of childcare".

Mr Cummings travelled more than 250 miles from London to Durham during the coronavirus lockdown, but Mr Johnson said he "wouldn't mark him down" for making the trip.

South Wales Argus:

Further reports also suggested he took a second trip to the north east in April, having already returned to London.

Mr Cummings denied the fresh allegations, which were reported by the Observer and the Sunday Mirror, and Mr Johnson announced he would be standing by his most senior aide.

The PM added that his aide's "objective" was to "stop the spread of the virus".

Answering one of many questions on the subject, the PM said his aide's actions were not in breach of the lockdown rules.

"The advice is perfectly clear if you have childcare needs," he said. "If [Mr Cummings and his wife] went under... they might have needed help from relatives."

The PM added: "[Mr Cummings] was absolutely responsible to see the risk to his family."

But MPs from across the political spectrum have joined calls for the claims against Mr Cummings to be investigated, with Torfaen MP and shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds saying the allegations were "extraordinarily serious and... need to be dealt with.”

Other politicians including SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon have called on Mr Cummings to resign.

"I know it is tough to lose a trusted adviser at the height of crisis, but when it’s a choice of that or integrity of vital public health advice, the latter must come first," she said today.

Additional reporting by PA.