Case alleges Cummings may have perverted course of justice over political lockdown trip

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Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have received a 225-page dossier urging them to investigate Dominic Cummings for allegedly perverting the course of justice, in connection with a statement about his trips to the north-east of England at most height of the pandemic.Former regional chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal said Cummings’ assertions at a press conference in the Downing Street Rose Garden on May 25 affected the course of justice as Durham Police’s investigation into his behavior was already underway.

Afzal’s attorneys have given extensive details of the allegation in the brief sent Friday to Durham Police, Metropolitan Police and Max Hill, the director of public prosecutions, and his staff at the CPS.

They asserted that the legal test for such a prosecution had been met. The case also charges Cummings and his wife, Mary Wakefield, with multiple alleged breaches under coronavirus regulations for leaving their primary home in London and their second home in Durham without, it says, a reasonable excuse.

The most serious allegation in the documents is the claim that Cummings perverted the course of justice in his account of his trip to Barnard Castle on April 12 and his refusal to claim he made a second trip. locked in Durham. If such a charge is proven, Cummings could face jail time.

In a statement, Afzal’s lawyers said: “The alleged tort of perverting the course of justice stems from Mr Cummings’ statement in the rose garden … Mr Cummings made public claims about his conduct at Barnard Castle on April 12, and his actions on the weekend of April 17-19, which appear to be totally inconsistent with accounts of his conduct at the time obtained from eyewitnesses.

Cummings admitted in his statement that he had visited Durham and Barnard Castle, as revealed by the Guardian and the Daily Mirror. He said he acted legally and went to Durham to self-isolate himself after his wife fell ill with the Covid suspect, and a day before he also fell ill.

He claimed he had phone data to prove he was not in Durham on April 19, as a Guardian source claimed. When three other people made similar statements, Downing Street said he considered the case closed and refused to disclose evidence that Cummings had proven he was in London.

Two of the people, Dave and Clare Edwards, made statements to Durham Police on May 25 as the Deputy Prime Minister gave his press conference, claiming to have seen a man they believed to be Cummings on April 19 in the Houghall Wood in Durham. .

Observations from Afzal’s attorneys said Cummings’ account appeared to have influenced a three-day investigation by Durham Police into his lockdown trips.

The force made no conclusions on its decision to leave London because its investigation was limited to County Durham. He concluded that the trip to Barnard Castle on Wakefield’s birthday was a “minor” violation of the rules “because there was no apparent violation of social distancing”, and concluded that he there was “not enough evidence” that he had made a second trip.

Afzal’s lawyers said new witness statements called these findings into question.

At least three people have reported seeing Cummings at Barnard Castle, including Robin Lees, a retired chemistry professor, who alerted the Guardian and police to seeing Cummings and his family get into a car on a road on the south side of the Tees on April 12th.

Cummings said he stayed near the Tees for 10 to 15 minutes and was no more than 15 yards from his car. But Rosalind Evans, a retired council worker, told The Guardian and police she saw someone she believed to be Cummings in the city center on April 12.

A third person, Alan Gowland, told the Sunday Times and later the Guardian that he saw someone he believed to be Cummings on a path near a roadblock across the Tees from observation by Lees.

Afzal’s file includes eight annexes of new witness statements at Barnard Castle and Durham. The Met and the CPS previously denied Afzal’s request to investigate the allegations against Cummings.

Afzal, whose brother Umar died of coronavirus while self-isolating at his home on April 8 while Cummings was in Durham, said he wanted to find out the truth.

“The picture painted by the witnesses who have come forward seems clear and consistent and is inconsistent in important parts with the version given by Mr. Cummings,” he said. “I think the CPS public interest test is also met, given the impact this has had on overall compliance with Covid regulations.”

A No. 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister said he thought Mr Cummings had behaved reasonably and considered the case closed. The Durham Constable made it clear that she was not taking any further action against Mr. Cummings and that by moving into her father’s premises, he had not violated the regulations.

Cummings and Wakefield have been contacted for comment.

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