Doctors and nurses, scientists, COVID survivors, families of COVID victims and ordinary citizens from around the country are among a group of people today setting out plans for Dominic Cummings to be reinvestigated and, if the evidence is there, prosecuted for breach of the Coronavirus regulations.
A team of senior lawyers has been established, headed by Mike Schwarz (Hodge Jones & Allen) and Matthew Ryder QC (Matrix).
The goal, said Mr Schwarz, is to get the police to re-open and properly investigate Mr Cummings’ journey to and stay in Durham and all his actions’ impact on the control of the pandemic. They seek, if the evidence leads in that direction, for him to be prosecuted.
Mr Schwarz said: “It seems, across the country that people believed Dominic Cummings broke the law, and put lives at risk, in what he did by leaving London, his conduct in Durham, his disregard for the spirit and letter of the regulations and his actions’ impact on public health messaging. The broad consensus of public opinion is that he broke the law on public health, and the entire weight of the State has been deployed to prevent proper investigation and proper due process.”
He said there would be four key planks to the campaign for justice to be done, and seen to be done:
- Durham Constabulary to explain their process/actions. ‘It seems clear even from what they have said that they were rushed, the wrong criteria were applied, there was an incomplete examination of evidence and actions taken by Mr Cummings.’
- A Metropolitan Police specialist team must investigate all his actions. ‘The focus has been so heavily centred on Durham, but the Met have yet to examine properly, if at all, the original alleged breach and all his surrounding activity, in London and everything beyond his stay in the North East.’
- The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) should be pressed to consider a public prosecution.
Mr Schwarz continued: “I have no desire to cast doubt on the integrity of Durham Police but it is clear they were operating in a highly charged political environment, and we want to know exactly what they did to establish what Cummings did in Durham, given the many inconsistencies in his own account. But also, we want to know what the Met Police did to investigate the initial alleged breach, given in our view there were no exceptional circumstances, and the clause of the law he relied upon was intended to protect child abuse and domestic violence victims.”
He said they had already been overwhelmed by the number of people offering support.
Mental health nurse Andy Toogood, from Hull, said: “I know I speak for many nurses and other health care workers when I say we were appalled both at what Dominic Cummings did and how the prime minister and the Cabinet then behaved. It was clear that keeping Cummings was more important than defeating COVID. NHS and social care workers have risked their lives and feel badly let down. It is also clear that the lockdown is now breaking down in part because of what happened and that in turn will put more lives at risk. I know many colleagues will also want to support this.”
North London GP Caroline Dickinson said she had rarely known such anger among both NHS staff and patients: “We have all seen close up the dreadful sacrifices our patients and their families have had to make – not being able to be together when someone is sick, not being able to visit or be visited, people dying alone with no family, people unable to go to funerals. It simply adds salt to the wounds to see a senior government adviser break rules and seemingly get away with it, when others have obeyed the rules at such cost, in circumstances far harder. I know I am not alone in the NHS in wanting to make this does not rest and that proper justice is done.”
Many of the first wave of supporters of the case are people who have sought to persuade their MP to call for Cummings to resign, or be prosecuted, but been rebuffed.
Among them is Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s Newmarket constituent Seamus McNally. He said his father-in-law died during lockdown, having been alone in hospital. ‘My ex-wife, and our children, his grandchildren, were unable to so much as visit him to say goodbye – he died, alone. Can you begin to imagine how heart breaking that is to contemplate and to have to live with for the rest of your life for his children and grand-children? I know I can’t.
‘Their “instincts” were to visit him. They did not, as they complied with what Mr Hancock called “instructions.” The Prime Minister’s assertion that Cummings acted correctly on his “instincts” is deeply, deeply insulting. Should my children have acted on their “instincts” to say one final goodbye to their grandfather before he died? Should many more of us than the 10 that were allowed to turn up to his funeral to send him off? We stuck to the law, and paid a price. Cummings has broken the law, and paid none. I will support this campaign in any way I can.’
Lynn Telford, of Kempsey, Worcester, said: “I wrote to my local MP as I felt Cummings’ action and all the government lies and their further support of his actions felt personal. I have listened to all the Downing St briefings. I’ve stayed at home only visiting my recently widowed father to leave food, not sleeping the night before just in case I transferred the virus. My brother hasn’t seen his father since the lock down, which my dad doesn’t understand and thinks my brother doesn’t care. I’m sorry but Stay at home means Stay at home. If the PM won’t hold Cummings accountable for his lies, I would support a private prosecution in my name.”
Heather Rawson, of Wakefield, who works for the Yorkshire Building Society, said: “I fully support a private prosecution of Dominic Cummings as our government continue to defend him, rather than the millions of people in the UK who have, and continue, to suffer loss, hardship and difficulties due to their handling of the Covid-19 crisis. The repercussions of this are far reaching, not least in weakening the messaging around social distancing and public safety. The government still expects the public to adhere to the rules, stay at home, not see their family and friends, when these have been broken so publicly and with such flimsy excuses and lies, that all credibility is lost. I believe the subsequent relaxing of some of these lockdown regulations was not in the interest of public safety, but to deflect from the actions of the government in response to Dominic Cummings, and that we will suffer more infections, and loss of life, as a result.”
Lisa Green, who manages a physiotherapy business in Colne Valley, Yorkshire, said: “The government think they have got away with this, but the anger is real and it will not go away. It’s not just about what he got up to in Durham, and his eye test drive, or his walks in the woods; it is the fact he left London in the first place. When I think of the people who died alone, or the people who could not attend funerals, or the people separated from families on the front line, it makes my blood boil to see him claiming his circumstances were exceptional, and it shames the government to see Boris Johnson and the entire Cabinet pretend there was nothing wrong with what he did. I will be happy to support in whatever way I can the case against Cummings.”
Daryl Clarke, a Company Director of a technology business based in Ascot, Berks, said: “I am equally enraged and disappointed that a senior government advisor, responsible for drafting the lockdown laws, would not only blatantly go against the rules but then have the gall to go on national television and lie about the circumstances. The vast majority of Britain has followed the lockdown to the letter, in some case at great personal sacrifice including seeing loved ones die alone. Mr Cummings should not only be removed from government but if at all possible, prosecuted.”
Paul May, of Ribble Valley, said: “I think people feel so powerless, that we did our bit, stuck to the rules, made real sacrifices in terms of not seeing family and friends, then he breaks the rules and has the whole cabinet turned out to pretend he didn’t. If I can do anything to help get this properly investigated, and taken to court, I will. Justice must be done.”
Clare Kirby, an administrator from Hampshire, said: “I have rarely felt such anger as has been aroused by the Cummings scandal and the attempts of the government to justify it. I have tried and failed to engage my MP on the subject, and so am very happy to support anything that keeps the pressure on Johnson and Cummings. He broke the rules, and Johnson backed him. They have lied and wriggled ever since, and I want to see them properly questioned on this, preferably in court.”
For updates on the citizens’ bid to prosecute Dominic Cummings or to donate via Crowdjustice, please click here.
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