THE Prime Minister defended his chief aide when pressed by the Oxford Mail's Erin Lyons.

Erin asked Boris Johnson why it was okay for Dominic Cummings to break the lockdown rules and drive 260 miles from London to Durham when the advice at the time was ‘stay at home.’ Mr Cummings’ defence was that he and his wife were unwell with coronavirus and made the journey so that his family could care for his child.

Erin’s question at the daily conference related to a tweet from Oxford University Hospital Trust anaesthetist Chris Gough, who asked why, when he was ill with coronavius he had to stay at home with his four-month old child, when the same rule did not apply to Cummings.

Mr Gough that he thought the guidance was ‘incredibly clear’ – if you have suspected coronavirus, stay at home.

Erin asked the Prime Minister: “If the Government guidance included the exemption that Cummings used, why did people in Oxfordshire and beyond seem so unaware of it, at great cost to themselves and their loved ones?”

The Prime Minister responded: “They’re [Mr Gough and Cummings] in the same position. Mr Cummings did isolate for 14 days or more and the circumstances of his isolation were determined by the difficult childcare position that he found himself in. And I understand that I think many other people do.”

His answer was met with outrage from the public on twitter, one saying Mr Johnson ‘fluffed it then just walked away.’ Erin also asked why Government guidelines to the NHS says admin and other non-frontline staff do not need PPE, following the death of Peter Gough, a John Radcliffe worker. As reported last week, Mr Gough had documented his safety concerns in messages to friends in the weeks leading up to his death from coronavirus.

Mr Johnson said the Government had been guided by science, but added he would ‘look at what’s happening in the John Radcliffe’ to ‘try to make sure they get what they need.’ Oxford City Council deputy leader Tom Hayes tweeted: ‘Brilliant to see Erin Lyons from the Oxford Mail putting important and tough questions to the Prime Minister.

‘Local news has never been more important. Trusted news is really critical right now. Great to see Oxford’s press providing it.’ Another journalist at the daily briefing asked whether Cummings had broken the rules further by going to Barnard Castle. The prime minister did not answer the question, but it has since been confirmed that Cummings’ car was seen in the car park there.

It is reported that ‘major disquiet’ is spreading amongst the prime minster’s cabinet following his defence of Cummings. ITV political correspondent Paul Brand said one cabinet member said they were ‘stunned’ by the PM’s statement, ‘with the government “bleeding credibility”’.