Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier brands Dominic Cummings controversy ‘damaging’

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. Picture: Stefano Cagnoni

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. Picture: Stefano Cagnoni - Credit: Archant

The Hackney South and Shoreditch MP has branded Dominic Cummings’ controversial justification for travelling during lockdown as “incredibly damaging”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief advisor was forced to address journalists at a Number 10 press conference on May 25 after he hit the headlines for travelling 270 miles from his home in Islington to his parents’ farm in County Durham, and from there to Barnard Castle and back, during the height of coronavirus lockdown.

He said the journeys did not breach the lockdown restrictions he helped to create because he was setting up childcare arrangements.

The Barnard Castle day trip, which took place on his wife’s birthday, was to test if his eyesight was good enough for the long journey back to London, he said.

Labour MP Meg Hillier said it was “extraordinary on many levels”: “I have had many constituents contact me who feel upset, angry and let down. They feel it wasn’t fair.”

She said starting the press conference 30 minutes late was a mistake: “He positions himself as someone who understands the country, but good courtesy and manners are important to people.

“In past governments you would have been out on your ear.

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“The whole thing has been incredibly damaging at this time, and normally the opposition want government to fall over but at the moment I want the government to succeed in containing this pandemic.”

However, Ms Hillier said it is “heartening” that the correspondence she has had with constituents suggests people are still adhering to social distancing guidelines.