The police chief who handled the investigation into Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham is facing a possible inquiry after a furious backlash from the public, according to reports.
Officers said that Mr Cummings might have breached lockdown when he drove to Barnard Castle on Easter Sunday, but his 260-mile journey to the north east of England did not break the rules.
Durham Police received a number of complaints from Britons angry over the handling of the investigation.
A portion of the complaints are understood to have been made against Chief Constable Jo Farrell, The Telegraph reported.
Durham Police received a number of complaints from Britons angry over the handling of the investigation into Dominic Cummings. A portion of the complaints are understood to have been made against Durham Police’s Chief Constable Jo Farrell, pictured
Dominic Cummings, top aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, arrives at the back of Downing Street after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown, May 29
The Force’s professional standards department will assess the complaints before a decision is made on whether the matter should be taken further.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) will also be informed, but no referrals have yet been made, reports indicate.
A Durham Constabulary spokesman said there is ‘currently’ no investigation into the Force’s handling of the inquiry.
It is not yet clear whether the complaints are related to anger over the police’s decision to investigate Mr Cummings, or anger over the probe’s results.
It is understood that roughly 10 complaints have been received in total.
Acting police and crime commissioner Steve White, who last week urged Ms Farrell to investigate Mr Cummings, also received a number of complaints.
Durham’s police and crime panel are now set to consider the complaints against Mr White – serving as temporary PCC after the death of his predecessor, Ron Hogg.
The force said on Thursday that Mr Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle ‘might have’ been in ‘minor breach’ of the regulations.
The force added that if an officer had stopped Mr Cummings on his journey they would have provided ‘advice on the dangers of travelling during the pandemic crisis’.
Had this advice been accepted by Mr Cummings, ‘no enforcement action would have been taken’.
But Durham Police said they did not consider Mr Cummings self-isolating at his family’s farm a breach of the guidelines, and no further action would be taken.
In a statement the force said: ‘In line with Durham Constabulary’s general approach throughout the pandemic, there is no intention to take retrospective action in respect of the Barnard Castle incident since this would amount to treating
‘Mr Cummings differently from other members of the public. Durham Constabulary has not taken retrospective action against any other person.’
A No10 spokesman said the Prime Minister now considers this matter closed after Durham Police decided not to pursue legal action.
They added: ‘The police have made clear they are taking no action against Mr Cummings over his self-isolation and that going to Durham did not breach the regulations.
‘The Prime Minister has said he believes Mr Cummings behaved reasonably and legally given all the circumstances and he regards this issue as closed.’
The top aide claims he used the journey on his wife’s birthday to check his vision had recovered enough to drive back to London after suffering suspected Covid-19.
Dominic Cummings journey to Barnard Castle, pictured, may have constituted a ‘minor’ breach of lockdown, according to Durham Police
He had already travelled 260 miles from the capital to the North East two weeks before to stay at his parents’ farm.
Road police officers warned it was a bad idea to take to the road with impaired vision in the wake of the Cummings case.
Another police chief accused the UK government of ‘rushing’ to announce the relaxation of lockdown measures today, saying it may have been a political move to help ministers facing pressure after the fallout from Cummings’ actions.
Northumbria’s Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said the government’s pre-announcement on Thursday was ‘mistimed’ and called for an independent inquiry.
Theresa May has become the latest Conservative heavyweight to wade into the row over Dominic Cummings, saying he broke the ‘spirit’ of lockdown rules
The PM has seen his party’s ratings tumble by four points in a week amid the Dominic Cummings row, while support for Labour has gone up five points, according to a YouGov survey for the Times
She said the public need not have been notified so early, putting additional pressure on police to enforce lockdown during a heatwave weekend.
Theresa May has become the latest Conservative heavyweight to wade into the row over Dominic Cummings, saying he broke the ‘spirit’ of lockdown rules.
In a letter to her constituents in Maidenhead, the former prime minister said her successor’s senior adviser ‘didn’t act within the spirit of the guidance’ and that she ‘can well understand the anger’ of those who did.
Mr Cummings was accused of breaking lockdown rules after travelling from London to his parent’s farm in Durham against government guidance over fears he would be struck down by coronavirus and unable to care for his son.
After recovering from what he says was coronavirus, the aide took a trip to a local beauty spot near Barnard Castle with his family to ‘test his eyesight’ before returning to London.
Durham Police said that Mr Cummings ‘might’ have broken the rules with the trip, but would be taking any further action.
There are now nearly 100 Tory MPs, including several ministers, who have either called for Mr Cummings to go or criticised his conduct.
Last night, Theresa May became the latest prominent Tory MP to criticise the aide.
She said: What this matter has shown is that there was a discrepancy between the simple messages given by the Government and the details of the legislation passed by Parliament.
‘In these circumstances I do not feel that Mr Cummings followed the spirit of the guidance.’
His actions were met with fury from the public and politicians when they were exposed by the Daily Mirror and The Guardian.
‘I can well understand the anger of those who have been abiding by the spirit of the guidance given by the Government and expect others to do so,’ Mrs May added.
But she also raised concerns that the ongoing focus on Mr Cummings ‘has been detracting from the most important task, which is dealing with Coronavirus and starting the process of recovery and easing lockdown.’