Dominic Cummings, 48, made a 260-mile journey to Durham during lockdown when he and his wife were ill. He has since faced calls to resign and for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to sack him but the leader has continued to support his senior aide and urged people to move on from the subject. Professor Van-Tam has now broken his silence on the lockdown rules.
In answer to a question at the briefing about Dominic Cummings, Professor Van-Tam spoke forcibly when he said: “In my opinion the rules are clear and they have always been clear.
“In my opinion they are for the benefit of all.
“In my opinion they apply to all.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Dominic Cummings gave a very extensive explanation of his behaviour on Monday and answered all questions in relation to that.
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Jonathan Van-Tam hit out at Dominic Cummings in Saturday’s press briefing
Oliver Dowden said: “Dominic Cummings gave a very extensive explanation”
“The Prime Minister accepted that explanation and on that basis kept him in post and that remains the position.”
It comes as Former prime minister Theresa May says Dominic Cummings had not “followed the spirit” of the lockdown guidance, it has been reported.
In a message to her constituents in Maidenhead, Berkshire, reported by the Daily Mirror, Mrs May said said she can “well understand” the anger” of people who had obeyed the guidance while the PM’s aide drove from London to a family farm in Durham.
Mr Johnson said on Thursday he regarded the issue as “closed”
She added: “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.
“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.”
But Mrs May said she was concerned that the focus on Mr Cummings was “detracting from the most important task” of dealing with coronavirus.
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Mr Johnson said on Thursday he regarded the issue as “closed” after the police said they did not intend to take “retrospective action”, though the force found that the aide may have committed “a minor breach” of lockdown rules in driving to the town.
Mr Johnson had also faced fresh cross-party calls for Mr Cummings to go in light of the police statement.
More than 30 Tory MPs have called for Mr Cummings’ departure, while senior minister Penny Mordaunt admitted there were “inconsistencies” in his account and that “there is no doubt he took risks”.
On Tuesday, Douglas Ross, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for Scotland, quit the Government, saying he could not “in good faith” defend Mr Cummings’ actions.