THE actions of the Prime Minister’s special adviser Dominic Cummings in leaving London to take his sick wife and child to Durham at the height of the coronavirus outbreak has undermined the Government’s credibility.

This is the view of Ludlow MP Philip Dunne who says that he has received more than 1,200 emails or letters on the subject.

Mr Dunne joins more than 100 Conservative MPs in criticism of Mr Cummings.

“My main concern is that by behaving in this way, the Prime Minister’s principal adviser in Downing Street has undermined the authority of the Government in persuading the people of this country to continue to abide by the movement restrictions, as these are gradually and cautiously phased out,” said Mr Dunne.

“This is vital to avoid a resurgence in infection before an effective treatment or vaccine is available.

“His explanation may have been within the exemption permitted for care of small children, but his conduct and lack of apology have raised questions about his judgement and whether he could not have acted differently, as so many others across the country have had to do.

“He appears to have decided to self-isolate hundreds of miles from his place of work and home, without informing his employer.

“The Prime Minister was himself ill with Covid, so he cannot be held responsible for Mr Cummings’ actions at the time. But he should have informed either the First Secretary of State or the Cabinet Secretary, while the Prime Minister was incapacitated, and I have seen no acknowledgement that he did so.”

Mr Dunne’s decision to join the ranks of those who are critical of Mr Cummings will be a blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has insisted that his special adviser acted both responsibly and within the law. He joins a large number of Conservative MPs in his criticism about what happened.

Mr Dunne said he has been struck by the messages and strong feelings that people have expressed.

“Many are from constituents who have experienced very real loss or personal trauma through the impact of these unprecedented movement restrictions on themselves and/or members of their family,” Mr Dunne said.

“Many are from individuals who have supported me or the Government through the ballot box and many who have not.

“Many are from those who have not previously contacted me as their MP.”

But the Ludlow MP and former Health Minister stopped short of saying that the Prime Minister was wrong to want to retain Mr Cummings.

“It is up to the Prime Minister to decide who should advise him,” added Mr Dunne.

“He has decided to maintain Dominic Cummings in post, which is his prerogative.”

Mr Dunne says that he hopes that people will continue to

“I have been immensely impressed by the manner in which the overwhelming majority here in south Shropshire, in common with the British people as a whole, have respected the movement restrictions in order to help save lives and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed,” said Mr Dunne.

“This spirit of all being involved together in a common endeavour to combat this global pandemic, has been both powerful and critical in helping the country get back to some kind of normal.”

Initially Mr Cummings had told journalists that it did not matter what they thought.

But two days later in a press conference in the garden at Downing Street he admitted his drive to Durham and the 60-mile round trip to Barnard Castle where he got out of the car and went for a walk.

He claimed that this journey the day before his return to London was in order to test his eyesight.

The Prime Minister has refused calls for an investigation by the Cabinet Secretary and stepped in to stop his chief scientific advisor and the head of Public Health England from answering questions on the matter.