Willesden Green man’s legal action over Dominic Cummings breaking lockdown rules is rejected by High Court
- Credit: Archant
A Willesden Green man’s legal challenge over the decision not to investigate Dominic Cummings for alleged breaches of coronavirus lockdown rules has been rejected by the High Court.
Martin Redston took legal action against the director of public prosecutions (DPP) Max Hill QC for his alleged failure to investigate the Prime Minister’s chief advisor.
At a hearing in the High Court today ( November 3), Michael Mansfield QC said Mr Cummings “appearing to evade any genuine scrutiny for his actions due to government associations is undermining of respect for the rule of law”.
Mr Cummings made a controversial 260-mile drive from London to Durham in March to stay on his parents’ farm while strict travel restrictions were in place, after his wife exhibited Covid-19 symptoms.
At a press conference in Downing Street in May, Mr Cummings argued that his journey to Durham was to protect his family’s health.
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He also said he subsequently took a “short drive” to Barnard Castle, about 25 miles away from where he was isolating, on his wife’s 45th birthday, to test his eyesight, after it was affected by Covid-19, to “see if I could drive safely”.
Mr Cummings declined to apologise, saying his actions were “reasonable in these circumstances”, adding: “I don’t regret what I did.”
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Durham Police later said officers had concluded “there might have been a minor breach of the regulations that would have warranted police intervention”, but did not intend to take “retrospective action”.
Mr Mansfield QC, acting for Mr Redston, referred to “evidence of the ‘Cummings effect’ reducing public trust or compliance”, as well as the “Cummings defence” of people “seeking to justify breaching the law”, as demonstrating “the ongoing public sore arising from this issue”.
Mr Mansfield said that Mr Cummings was “virtually a lawmaker” who helped make, or at least advised on, the lockdown rules, adding: “The public concern here is ... had the lawmaker broken the law he has made or helped to make?”
He told the court that Mr Cummings had committed “at least one offence”, which was investigated by Durham Police, but that a “potential offence” relating to him leaving his home in London had not been considered.
The barrister added that Mr Cummings showed “reckless disregard” for lockdown guidance when he attended work on March 27, despite his wife exhibiting coronavirus symptoms.
Mr Mansfield also argued that public support for Mr Cummings by Attorney General Suella Braverman and Home Secretary Priti Patel, who he said had “publicly expressed prejudgment” in tweets in May, was “plainly wrong”.
He concluded that the appearance of lawmakers “flagrantly not obeying” their own rules “affects the level of security and health” for the rest of the population.
Duncan Atkinson QC, for the DPP, argued that there had been no decision by the DPP not to prosecute or to not refer the matter to police, and that Mr Redston should be refused permission.
Lady Justice Carr, sitting with Mr Justice Picken, said: “The decision in principle is that this renewed claim for permission to apply for judicial review will be refused.”
The judge added that the court’s decision for refusing permission would be provided in writing by Thursday afternoon.
Speaking outside court after the ruling, Mr Redston said: “I’m obviously very disappointed, as you can imagine, but ultimately the aim of this is to ensure Dominic Cummings is actually prosecuted for the breach of lockdown regulations.
“We now know that the DPP is not going to take any action and, presumably, that means the police will not respond to our requests for action, so now we want to consider how we go forward to ensure that the prosecution takes place.”
He added: “I think we are in the position we are as a nation to some extent because of what Cummings did.
“The Prime Minister said ‘stay at home’, those are his words. There must have been people who were literally in the car, packed, and they must have stopped when Johnson said ‘stay at home’.
“One person didn’t, a man in the public eye who got in his car and he drove 250 miles.”
Mr Redston said many members of the public “see that he didn’t play the game in the same way that the rest of us did and that’s why we are here”.