THE decision not to backdate council tax payments for Dominic Cummings’ lockdown cottage could ‘set a precedent and undermine public trust’, three County Durham MPs have warned in the latest stark challenge to the ruling.

The Labour Party representatives have written to the Valuation Office Agency urging the Government department to urgently review the matter to show those in positions of power do not avoid facing consequences for their actions.

The Prime Minister’s chief aide built a cottage at the family farm he co-owns near Durham and has avoided paying at least £30,000 in tax dating back to 2002.

It was confirmed last week and the Northern Echo revealed the tax for his cottage and his sister’s family home was being ‘written off’, but is due from this month.

Durham County Council this week said it was challenging the ruling and was determined to get the money back.

Meanwhile, three County Durham Tory MPs have accused their Labour counterparts of ‘playing politics’ and said it was an ‘old story’.

The latest letter to the Valuation Office Agency was signed by Durham City MP Mary Foy, Kevan Jones, for North Durham and Easington MP Graham Morris.

It said: “The decision of Mr Cummings to visit Durham during lockdown, and then this subsequent decision by the Valuation Office to not pursue this backdated council tax has created a huge amount of anger and frustration in our constituencies and across the country, and will simply have the effect of further eroding trust in our laws and regulations.

“Our communities will rightly want to know how the Government’s senior adviser has once again apparently suffered no consequences to breaching rules that the rest of us are expected to follow.

“As with Mr Cummings’ decision to visit Durham when we were all instructed by the Government to stay at home, this appears to be a case of one rule for the Government and its staff, and another for the rest of us.

“We would therefore be grateful for an explanation as to why this decision was reached by the Valuation Office.

“We would also ask that you review this case and make sure that, in the interests of fairness, all steps are taken to ensure that this council tax is collected.”

The agency has previously refused to comment on the case directly but made it clear all council taxpayers would be treated equally within the law.

Conservative MPs Dehenna Davison, Bishop Auckland, Richard Holden, North-West Durham and Paul Howell, Sedgefield, issued a statement on the controversy in response to the latest challenge.

They said: “This is clearly a matter for the Valuation Office Agency.

“We had hoped in a time of global pandemic and high local Covid cases that Labour politicians would be focusing on protecting our residents and reviving our economy.

“Instead Labour are trying to revive an old story to play cheap party politics, which just goes to show how divorced Labour are from the priorities of the people they’re meant to serve.”