A FIERCE row over the actions of the Prime Minister’s top aide continues today as Dominic Cummings faces more allegations that he broke lockdown rules.

Boris Johnson is under renewed pressure to sack Mr Cummings after reports surfaced that the 48-year-old made a second trip to County Durham, where his family lives, despite social restrictions.

The PM pledged his “full support” on Saturday to his under-fire chief adviser, who it emerged had travelled 260 miles to the North East in March to self-isolate with his family while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys.

According to the Sunday Times, the Conservative Party leader told allies he would not throw Mr Cummings “to the dogs” following reports he made the journey to ensure his four-year-old child could be looked after as he and his wife were ill.

But according to reports in the Observer and Sunday Mirror, the former Vote Leave campaign co-ordinator made a second trip to Durham and was seen there on April 19 – five days after being photographed on his return to Westminster.

A second eyewitness told the two papers they saw him a week earlier in Barnard Castle on Easter Sunday, during the period he was believed to be self-isolating.

Downing Street has said it would “not waste time” replying to the fresh allegations from “campaigning newspapers”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who was sent out to defend Mr Cummings at the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing on Saturday, will face further questions over the latest developments when he represents the Government during the Sunday morning political television programmes.

As well as Mr Shapps, a host of senior Cabinet ministers – including Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Attorney General Suella Braverman – issued statements of support for Mr Cummings on social media.

In a statement on Saturday morning, Number 10 said Mr Cummings had travelled to be close to family to seek help looking after his four-year-old child after his wife became ill with coronavirus symptoms – a virus which has seen more than 45,000 people in the UK die after contracting it, according to the latest available data.

Speaking at the press conference, Mr Shapps added that Mr Cummings had “stayed put for 14 days” while residing at a family property, having pre-empted his own illness once his wife showed Covid-19 symptoms.

But the trip to Barnard Castle on April 12, if correct, would call that testimony into question.

The Northern Echo:

Barnard Castle, pictured on April 21

According to the papers, 70-year-old retired teacher Robin Lees, of Barnard Castle, said he saw Mr Cummings and his family walking by the River Tees.

He told the Mirror and Observer: “I was a bit gobsmacked to see him, because I know what he looks like.

“It just beggars belief to think you could actually drive when the advice was stay home, save lives. It couldn’t have been clearer.”

The papers also reported that a second unnamed source recalled seeing Mr Cummings in woodland near his family’s Durham property on April 19, recognising him due to him wearing his trademark beanie hat.

He reportedly was heard commenting on how “lovely” the bluebells were during an early-morning Sunday stroll with his journalist wife Mary Wakefield.

The claims prompted fury among MPs, and Ian Blackford, SNP Westminster leader, renewed his calls for the PM to axe Mr Cummings from his team.

Responding to the allegations, a No 10 spokeswoman said: “Yesterday the Mirror and Guardian wrote inaccurate stories about Mr Cummings.

“Today they are writing more inaccurate stories including claims that Mr Cummings returned to Durham after returning to work in Downing Street on 14 April.

“We will not waste our time answering a stream of false allegations about Mr Cummings from campaigning newspapers.”

The latest wave of lockdown infringement allegations against Mr Cummings came as Durham Police put out a fresh statement standing by earlier assertions that officers spoke with family members of Mr Cummings, only for the Government to deny it.

A new statement from the constabulary said the Leave campaigner’s father had a conversation with officers after he requested to speak to them.

Durham Police said: “During that conversation (with officers), Mr Cummings’ father confirmed that his son had travelled with his family from London to the North East and was self-isolating in part of the property.”