Statement on Dominic Cummings

I apologise for taking a few days to reply. This is for two reasons; first I have received over 700 communications on this (expressing a wide range of views) on top of the significant Covid-related casework and it takes some time to reply to everyone. Please also be assured that I have fed-in to the Chief Whip and No.10 the points that have been made. Second, rather than give a knee-jerk response, I wanted to hear all sides of the story before getting back to you.

Serious questions have been raised and constituents are entitled to my considered view. I endeavour to do so dispassionately. To many, Dominic Cummings is a polarising figure and I fear that may have clouded judgements. To some, he is the political devil incarnate and they have been quick to condemn. To others, he is a hero and consequently beyond reproach. I fall into neither category. I do not know him personally and have never worked directly alongside him. I therefore approach the issue from an unbiased personal perspective.

Having looked at the accusations and Dominic Cummings’ answers, I don’t believe he did break them in a pre-meditated way. A number of the more sensational accusations in the media have been shown to be false. If, for example, he did go and stay in the same building as his parents or other relatives then that would be an entirely different matter. I take him at his word that he observed the correct restrictions and did not come into contact with anyone other than his wife and child. We have an important principle in this country of being innocent until proven guilty. I find some of the trial by media distinctly ugly.

I also understand that there is currently an investigation underway by Durham Police into the facts of the matter. On the basis of what I know, and unless subsequent facts emerge, I don’t condemn him and call for his head.

I do understand much of the frustration and anger that has been expressed about this. So many have sacrificed so much personally and in their families during this horrible period. I have too. I am an only-child and have elderly parents with significant health issues living on their own many hundreds of miles away in Scotland. I would dearly love to be able to go up to see them and make sure they are ok. I have not done so. It is hard, and I know many have more acutely difficult situations.

We have many more challenges to face in dealing with this virus and its impact on the country. I would like to think that getting on with tackling coronavirus is the most important thing, and we should not to allow this to distract us from the job in hand.

 

Iain Stewart MP

Member of Parliament for Milton Keynes South