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300 people contacted Torbay's MP over Dominic Cummings

Torbay’s Tory MP Kevin Foster says people have been angered by the actions of Dominic Cummings during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Conservative MP has passed on the reaction of constituents in Torquay and Paignton to the prime minister.

Mr Foster said in a statement more than 300 residents had contacted him with their views about the behaviour of Mr Cummings.

But he said people should wait for the outcome of the Durham Police inquiry into the allegations, rather than accept “trial by media”.

The MP thanked people for observing the restrictions in recent weeks and said he had first-hand seen the work and sacrifices by people to tackle the threat of the virus.

He paid tribute to everyone “who did their bit” including NHS staff and care workers.

Mr Foster, a minister at the Home Office, said: “Having made our own sacrifices, we will all be angry when we believe not just the letter, but the spirit of the guidelines may have been broken. 

“Be this the people who gathered on Paignton Beach during lockdown or Mr Cummings’ journey. 

“I have contacted the Prime Minister’s team to highlight the views of residents here in the bay, plus their thoughts and outstanding questions on the comments provided by Mr Cummings.”

The MP said Torbay had seen a “remarkable turnaround” from being one of the country’s initial Covid-19 hotspots to one of the lowest in the country.

He said he had missed attending church, meeting friends and visiting his father who has an underlying health condition.

Mr Foster added: “My decisions were based on ensuring those I love, along with my community and neighbours are protected.

 “I thank all those in our bay who did the same, including in circumstances which made it more difficult not to be there, especially where a loved one was ill. 

“I will continue following the same rules as those I represent, not just because of my role, but to protect those I love and live near to from this threat.”

Mr Foster said as a former criminal defence lawyer he preferred the justice system over trial by media.

He said: “There can only be one law, hence in Mr Cumming’s instance Durham Police will determine, without any political fear or favour, whether there is a case to answer for breaking it. No matter what anyone’s political view we can have confidence in their decision.”

Mr Cummings said at his press conference at Downing Street on Monday he believed he had acted reasonably and within the law when he drove his family 260 miles from London to County Durham after his wife developed Covid-19 symptoms in March.

He said they had self-isolated at a property on his father’s farm to be close to relatives in case they needed help with care for their four-year-old son, and had no regrets about his decision. 

Mr Cummings said he had later taken his wife and family on a 60-mile round trip to Barnard Castle to check whether he was fit to drive back to London after the illness affected his sight.

Some Conservative MPs called for him to be sacked for making the journey to Durham four days after the start of lockdown, which Labour said had broken the rules restricting travel restrictions.

The prime minister said he understood “the confusion, anger and pain” felt by people over the episode, but added that Mr Cummings had acted “reasonably” and with “integrity and care for others”.
 

By Ed Oldfield, local democracy reporting partnership

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