Prime Minister stands by under-fire senior aide Dominic Cummings

The Prime Minister has given his backing to his de facto chief-of-staff Dominic Cummings, despite growing calls from his backbenches to sack the aide following allegations he breached lockdown restrictions.

Boris Johnson, speaking at the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing, said Mr Cummings had "acted responsibly, legally and with integrity".

Conservative MPs had been baying for Mr Johnson to dispense with Mr Cummings after it emerged he had travelled 260 miles to County Durham in March to self-isolate with his family while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys.

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

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Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings leaves his residence in north London on May 28, 2020. (Photo by Justin TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
BRIDPORT, ENGLAND - MAY 27: A road sign stating 'Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives' has an additional sign added by members of the public stating 'Except Dominic Cummings' on May 27, 2020 in Bridport, United Kingdom. The British government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown by announcing schools will open to reception year pupils plus years one and six from June 1st. Open-air markets and car showrooms can also open from the same date. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
Protesters outside Downing Street, London, as the row over Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings' Durham trip continues. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 27: A sign giving directions to Durham outside the Maltsters pub on May 27, 2020 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. British Prime Boris Johnson will today be questioned by senior MPs amid calls for his chief advisor Dominic Cummings to resign after he made a controversial lockdown trip to Durham.The British government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown by announcing schools will open to reception year pupils plus years one and six from June 1st. Open-air markets and car showrooms can also open from the same date. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
During the UK's Coronavirus pandemic lockdown and in the 24hrs when a further 255 deaths occurred, bringing the official covid deaths to 37,048, and seen the day after the very unusual press conference by UK Prime Minister's special advisor Dominic Cummings about his breaking of lockdown rules, an elderly man walks past the message "Tory Scum Out!" which has been written on plyboard on a closed business in Soho, on 26th May 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
Protestors holding placards calling for there resignation or sacking of Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings demonstrate outside the entrance to Downing Street in central London on May 27, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saw his public support suffer the sharpest fall for a Conservative leader in a decade Wednesday as he prepared to be grilled by lawmakers over his handling of the Dominic Cummings scandal. Johnson has stuck by Cummings despite a public and political backlash over his top aide's travels to visit family despite the government's strict rules to curb the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home as the row over the Durham trip taken by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide continues.
Dominic Cummings, the chief advisor to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, arrives at Downing Street in London, Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The prime minister's populist appeal has been hammered by news that, as the coronavirus outbreak raged, chief adviser Cummings drove 250 miles (400 kilometers) to his parents' house while he was falling ill with suspected COVID-19 — allegedly flouting lockdown rules that the government had imposed on the rest of the country. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A workman removes graffiti from a wall near the north London home of the Prime Minister's top aide Dominic Cummings as the row over his Durham trip during the coronavirus lockdown continues.
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: A supporter of the Chief Advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, waits for him to leave his home on May 27, 2020 in London, England. On March 31st 2020, Downing Street confirmed to journalists that Dominic Cummings, senior advisor to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in North London. Durham police have confirmed that he was actually hundreds of miles away at his parent's house in the city, having travelled with his wife and young son. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images,)
Dominic Cummings, the top aide to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. leaves his north London home the day after he a gave press conference over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions Tuesday May 26, 2020. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)
Dominic Cummings, the top aide to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. leaves his north London home the day after he a gave press conference over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions Tuesday May 26, 2020. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)
Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves his house in London next to a police officer, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Dominic Cummings, senior aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, takes a drink as he makes a statement inside 10 Downing Street, London, Monday May 25, 2020, over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (Jonathan Brady/Pool via AP)
Demonstrators sit on a windowsill with a placards as they protest near the home of 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings, in London on May 25, 2020 following his admission he drove and stayed in Durham during the coronavirus lockdown. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings defied calls to resign on Monday over allegations that he broke coronavirus rules and undermined the government's response to the health crisis. Cummings told reporters that he acted "reasonably and legally" when he drove across the country with his wife while she was suffering from the virus, despite official advice to stay at home. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold placards as they protest outside of the home of 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings, in London on May 25, 2020 following his admission he drove and stayed in Durham during the coronavirus lockdown. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings defied calls to resign on Monday over allegations that he broke coronavirus rules and undermined the government's response to the health crisis. Cummings told reporters that he acted "reasonably and legally" when he drove across the country with his wife while she was suffering from the virus, despite official advice to stay at home. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
A mock signpost, giving directions to Barnard Castle, southwest of Durham, is pictured near to the home of 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings, in London on May 25, 2020 following his admission he drove and stayed in Durham during the coronavirus lockdown. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings defied calls to resign on Monday over allegations that he broke coronavirus rules and undermined the government's response to the health crisis. Cummings told reporters that he acted "reasonably and legally" when he drove across the country with his wife while she was suffering from the virus, despite official advice to stay at home. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
A road sign is pictured on the outskirts of Barnard Castle, less than 30 miles southwest of Durham, north east England, on May 25, 2020, a popular tourist village that Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings acknowledged he visited during the COVID-19 lockdown. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top adviser Domonic Cummings said Monday he acted "reasonably and legally" despite mounting pressure on him to resign for allegedly breaking coronavirus lockdown rules. "I don't think there is one rule for me and one rule for all people," Cummings told reporters in his first official press conference on the job. "In all circumstances, I believe I behaved reasonably and legally." (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A protester outside the north London home of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings after he gave a press conference over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings (C) speaks as he delivers a statement with journalists sat at a distance in the Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street in central London on May 25, 2020, following allegations he and his family travelled from London to Durham, while the nation was under full-lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday failed to draw a line under a scandal over his top aide Dominic Cummings allegedly breaching coronavirus rules as pressure mounted on the Brexit mastermind to go. (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings arrives to deliver a statement in the Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street in central London on May 25, 2020, following allegations he and his family travelled from London to Durham, while the nation was under full-lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday failed to draw a line under a scandal over his top aide Dominic Cummings allegedly breaching coronavirus rules as pressure mounted on the Brexit mastermind to go. (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings speaks as he delivers a statement in the Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street in central London on May 25, 2020, following allegations he and his family travelled from London to Durham, while the nation was under full-lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday failed to draw a line under a scandal over his top aide Dominic Cummings allegedly breaching coronavirus rules as pressure mounted on the Brexit mastermind to go. (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings speaks at a press conference in the Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street in central London on May 25, 2020, following allegations he and his family travelled from London to Durham, while the nation was under full-lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday failed to draw a line under a scandal over his top aide Dominic Cummings allegedly breaching coronavirus rules as pressure mounted on the Brexit mastermind to go. (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
A demonstrator displays a homemade placard calling for 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings to resign or be fired outside his home in London on May 25, 2020 following allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on May 24 defied pressure from within his own party and backed top aide Dominic Cummings over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown rules. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman protests outside 10 Downing Street, London, prior to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings giving his statement over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
A person wearing a PPE face mask proclaiming 'SACK CUMMINGS', as calls grow for Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief SPAD, Dominic Cummings, to be sacked from his position for flouting the lockdown rules he helped to create, on 25th May 2020 in Manchester, UK. (Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Mary Wakefield, wife of Dominic Cummings, is seen outside their home on May 24, 2020 in London, England. On March 31st 2020 Downing Street confirmed to journalists that Dominic Cummings was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in North London. Durham police have confirmed that he was actually hundreds of miles away at his parent's house in the city. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aid Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, as lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of risking the Government's efforts to combat Covid-19 in order to defend his senior aide following allegations he breached lockdown restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, Monday May 25, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is standing by his top aide, Cummings, who is accused of breaking lockdown rules by traveling 250 miles (400 km) to his parents’ house while coming down with COVID-19. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, Monday May 25, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is standing by his top aide, Cummings, who is accused of breaking lockdown rules by traveling 250 miles (400 km) to his parents’ house while coming down with COVID-19. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)
Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings leaves his home in London on May 25, 2020 following allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on May 24 defied pressure from within his own party and backed top aide Dominic Cummings over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown rules. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, Monday May 25, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is standing by his top aide, Cummings, who is accused of breaking lockdown rules by traveling 250 miles (400 km) to his parents’ house while coming down with COVID-19. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)
Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on May 24, 2020 following allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Mat 24 defied pressure from within his own party and backed top aide Dominic Cummings over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown rules. (Photo by Isabel Infantes / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)
Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings returns to his home in London on May 24, 2020 following allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday defied pressure from within his own party and backed top aide Dominic Cummings over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown rules. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
A big screen organised by British political campaign group Led By Donkeys mounted on a vehicle plays a clip from Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson's March 23 address to the nation where he explained the stay-at-home coronavirus lockdown rules outside the home of Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings in London on May 24, 2020 following allegations Cummings broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was under increased pressure on Sunday to sack top aide Dominic Cummings who was facing allegations that he had breached coronavirus lockdown rules for a second time. The British government has so far rejected calls to sack Cummings over allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country with his wife while she was suffering from symptoms of the disease, but even MPs from his own party were calling for him to leave on Sunday. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
A big screen organised by British political campaign group Led By Donkeys mounted on a vehicle plays a video clip outside the home of Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings in London on May 24, 2020 following allegations Cummings broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was under increased pressure on Sunday to sack top aide Dominic Cummings who was facing allegations that he had breached coronavirus lockdown rules for a second time. The British government has so far rejected calls to sack Cummings over allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country with his wife while she was suffering from symptoms of the disease, but even MPs from his own party were calling for him to leave on Sunday. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
A video by political campaign group Led By Donkeys of the statement made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is shown outside the north London home of his senior aide Dominic Cummings , as lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
A police officer talks to a protester outside the north London home of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings , as lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Two police officers arrive at the home of Dominic Cummings, Chief Advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on May 24, 2020 in London, England. On March 31st 2020 Downing Street confirmed to journalists that Dominic Cummings was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in North London. Durham police have confirmed that he was actually hundreds of miles away at his parent's house in the city. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Dominic Cummings, Chief Advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is seen leaving his house on May 24, 2020 in London, England. On March 31st 2020 Downing Street confirmed to journalists that Dominic Cummings was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in North London. Durham police have confirmed that he was actually hundreds of miles away at his parent's house in the city. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Mary Wakefield, wife of Dominic Cummings, is seen outside their home on May 24, 2020 in London, England. On March 31st 2020 Downing Street confirmed to journalists that Dominic Cummings was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in North London. Durham police have confirmed that he was actually hundreds of miles away at his parent's house in the city. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aid Dominic Cummings leaves his north London home, as lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government with the Prime Minister facing pressure to sack his closest aide after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
A protester writes out a message outside the north London home of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings , as lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions.
File photo dated 14/04/20 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's controversial aide Dominic Cummings as he arrives in Downing Street with his assistant, Cleo Watson on his return to work for the first time since news that the aide was suffering from Coronavirus emerged. Questions were raised about his adherence to social distancing advice as he is photographed walking down Downing Street with fellow aide Cleo Watson.
File screengrab dated 24/03/20 taken from PA video of Dominic Cummings, Chief Adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as he arrives in Downing Street, London, the day after the Prime Minister put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. The controversial aide is back in the headlines - this time for travelling more than 260 miles to Durham during the lockdown.
FILE PHOTO dated 03/09/19 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his senior aide Dominic Cummings in Downing Street, central London. Lockdown questions continue to bombard the Government with the Prime Minister facing pressure to sack his closest aide after it emerged that he travelled to his parents' home despite coronavirus-related restrictions.
Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, arrives in Downing Street, London.
File photo dated 17/03/20 of Chief Adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, who has been taking part in meetings of the senior scientists advising the Government on the coronavirus outbreak, it has been reported.
Chief Adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, listens during a press conference at Downing Street, London, on the government's coronavirus action plan. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday March 3, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Frank Augstein/PA Wire
Chief Adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings at a news conference inside 10 Downing Street, London, after the latest COBRA meeting to discuss the government's response to coronavirus crisis. Picture date: Monday March 16, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Richard Pohle/The Times /PA Wire
A pro European campaigner holds a photograph of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson's special adviser, Dominic Cummings in Westminster, London. The UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020. (Photo by Steve Taylor / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior adviser Dominic Cummings arrives with an unidentified woman in Downing Street, London.
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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.

Leading the Government press conference for the third time since being discharged from hospital on April 12, Mr Johnson said he could "not mark down" Mr Cummings for the way he acted.

The PM said: "I have had extensive face-to-face conversations with Dominic Cummings and I have concluded that in travelling to find the right kind of childcare, at the moment when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus – and when he had no alternative – I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent.

"And I do not mark him down for that.

"Though there have been many other allegations about what happened when he was in self-isolation and thereafter, some of them palpably false, I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly and legally and with integrity and with the overwhelming aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, during an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme on Sunday, had denied that Mr Cummings was going to resign.

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