Durham Police have found following an investigation that Cummings’ 26-mile drive to Barnard Castle “may be a minor violation of regulations that would result in police intervention.”
No further police action will be taken against Cummings, and police said they did not consider him to have committed an offense by driving about 260 miles from London to Durham to move with his family as they separated themselves .
But the announcement from police Thursday brought another twist to a scandal that threatened to usurp Johnson’s response to the pandemic.
Both Cummings and the Prime Minister repeatedly asserted that he had done nothing by driving from London to Durham in late March, nor by visiting Barnard Castle in mid-April on their way back to London.
Cummings claimed Monday that he had driven half an hour to the town only to test his sight and check if he could actually drive safely – a claim met with skepticism by critics and some lawmakers.
This time around, Johnson is urging Britons to “stay home,” and the government’s guidance allows people to leave home once a day for exercise but not to drive to other locations to do so. this.
Johnson’s reaction to the police announcement suggests he will not return his support to Cummings. “Police have made it clear that they have done nothing against Mr. Cummings in his isolation and that going to Durham has not violated the regulations,” a Downing Street spokesman said Thursday.
“The Prime Minister said he believes Mr. Cummings has acted reasonably and legally, given all the circumstances, and that he regards this issue as closed.”
But a growing group of lawmakers called on Cummings – seen by many as the architect of many of the government’s policies – to resign, and accused Johnson of slowing down his own health messaging amid a pandemic.
“Boris Johnson’s dissatisfaction or inability to do the right thing left the government looking unreliable and unscrupulous,” Labor leader Keir Starmer said Thursday. “Worst of all, he ignores the public health advice that keeps us all safe, just to keep a helper at his job. The health of our country must come first.”
On Wednesday, Johnson said he understood the “anger” that the public might feel about Cummings’s actions, adding: “But I think what they want now is for us to focus on them and their needs in the rather than in a public ding about a counselor. may or may not have done so. “
The UK suffers the ‘worst death rate’ of any country
The controversy stems from further investigation into Johnson’s management of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Europe.
The figures, which use historical data to compare total deaths beginning in mid-March, provide an estimate of actual coronavirus-related deaths, beyond official numbers of confirmed deaths associated with virus.
Estimates were considered useful because many deaths were not analyzed, and were not officially recorded as victims of Covid-19. The Financial Times did not disclose the specific date range covered by the review.
The newspaper analyzed mortality data available from national statistics agencies in 19 countries and found the UK to appear the worst when comparing excess death data per million people.
A CNN analysis of death statistics from Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland shows that there are more than 59,000 deaths above the long-term average from mid-March to mid-May, which is the latest statistic available.
In response to a review in the Financial Times, a spokesperson for the UK Department of Health and Social Affairs told CNN: “Our absolute priority as we discuss this outbreak is that saving lives can be very misleading. because different countries are compiling their numbers in different ways with different categories of patients included. “
The numbers convey a cold judgment on the way the Johnson government responds to pandemics, and come as some raise concerns about a second wave of cases as the society reopens in June.
Experts say it is not safe to reopen schools
Meanwhile, on Thursday morning a top group of experts said it was not safe for the government to reopen schools in England next week as planned.
Johnson later confirmed at a news conference that he is pressuring his plan to welcome select groups of people back to the classroom starting June 1, as part of a broader lock-in nation .
Teachers unions, local authorities and headteachers are worried about plans to reopen schools on Monday. Experts say schools can only be opened when local infection rates are low and when a “properly functioning, coordinated, localized test, monitor and exclude approach” is in place.
“We have found no evidence that these conditions have been found nationwide. Until now, it is not safe to open schools anywhere on June 1,” said a report from the Independent SAGE group of scientists. The group was founded by former UK chief of science David King and with many leading scientists concerned about the advice given to ministers.
The report suggests that plans to reopen schools on June 1 have not been properly vetted by experts at the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencyencies (SAGE), the government’s official body of scientists advising. SAGE is not connected to the Independent SAGE group.
“The government-reopened school scenario is not one of the SAGE models, which makes the potential impact of reopening even more uncertain,” King’s group said.
It also warned that the step should not be taken until more complete testing and monitoring of programs is up and running. “Robust test systems are not everywhere,” the report said.
“The public’s adherence to social travel is influenced by trust in the government and its messaging. This trust is increasingly strained,” the report added.
Downing Street did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Unlike England, the devolved UK countries in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will not send children to school next week.
CNN’s Simon Cullen, Sarah Dean, Samantha Tapfumaneyi and Luke McGee contributed to the reporting.