ONE of Prime Minister’s top aides Dominic Cummings left his jobs at Downing Street amid bitter in-fighting last year and has now made a damning testimony about the Government's handling of the pandemic.

Chief adviser Mr Cummings headed into Number 10 when Boris Johnson became PM in 2019.

Yesterday he gave a marathon seven-hour session of evidence to MPs about his time in No 10 as the pandemic approached and then raged across the UK.

Here is a rundown Mr Cummings' full saga, from Brexit to eye tests: 


Mr Cummings was appointed director of the successful Vote Leave camp during the 2016 EU referendum.

In a campaign that would later be dramatised by Channel 4, Mr Cummings controversially ordered the campaign bus to be emblazoned with the disputed claim that leaving the EU would save £350 million a week to spend on the NHS.

He was also credited with creating the “Take Back Control” motto which was seen to capture the mood of disillusionment that helped drive the Brexit vote.

The online advertising blitz highlighting the idea of a potential influx of migrants from Turkey if Britain remained in the EU – even though there was no immediate prospect of the nation joining the bloc – was also Mr Cummings’ responsibility.

Following the referendum and Theresa May’s appointment as Prime Minister, Mr Cain joined Boris Johnson as one of his advisers at the Foreign Office when he was given the job of Foreign Secretary.

July 2019 

Boris Johnson took Mr Cummings into Number 10 to head up his operation after he won the Conservative top job in summer 2019.

The Northern Echo:

January 2020 

Mr Cummings wrote on his blog of wanting to become “much less important – and within a year largely redundant” in the Downing Street operation.

May 2020 

There was a public outcry after details of Mr Cummings’ trip to Durham with his family at the height of lockdown were revealed, seemingly in a high-profile breach of the rules.

Despite calls for the aide to resign over the journey – which apparently included a trip to local beauty spot Barnard Castle to check the quality of his eyesight – Mr Cummings was backed by the Prime Minister, and a rare press conference in the Downing Street Rose Garden was held to address the matter.

The Lancet published a paper by University College London in August looking at the so-called Cummings effect, finding a “clear decrease in confidence starting on May 22 (when the story of his trip broke) and continuing to fall quickly in the days following”.

There were also reports that Mr Cummings was seen in County Durham a second time.

The Northern Echo:

June 2020

Durham County Council planners investigated allegations that the property where Dominic Cummings stayed during his lockdown trip to County Durham, as it was thought not to have the correct planning permission.

Mr Cummings had previously told journalists that the "cottage" he stayed in was "sort of concrete blocks", but this would not be enough to stop the questions from continuing to flood on social media and online.

Just more than a week later, on June 10, it was concluded that there were "historic breaches" of planning and building control regulations at the lockdown family farm.

But no further action would be taken, although it would pass the findings on to the Valuation Office Agency to see if the family’s extra building is liable for council tax.

This prompted yet more anger as people across the UK called for Mr Cummings to be investigated by the relevant authorities.

July 2020

An investigation held by Durham County Council showed several planning infringements following three visits to the farm, but enforcement action could not be taken because changes were made to the North Lodge cottage too long ago - but it may still be liable for council tax.

October 2020

A Northern Echo investigation revealed Mr Cummings and his family were liable to pay council tax on a further two properties at their North-East farm, but charges were not to be backdated to when they were built.

It means that years of unpaid taxes, potentially between £30,000 and £50,000, on two homes built in breach of planning laws will be written off.

However, a council boss later instructed senior officers to find a way to force the family to pay at least £30,000 in backdated council tax.

Councillor Simon Henig, who leads Durham County Council, called for a Parliamentary review of the Valuation Office Agency’s decision to not impose the charge retrospectively.

Cllr Henig said he was responding to mounting public anger at Boris Johnson’s chief aide.

The Northern Echo:

November 2020 

A bitter power struggle in Number 10 led to the resignation of Mr Cummings.

He had initially indicated that he would stay in post until the end of the year, but then walking out of the famous black door with his boxes seemingly packed.

April 2021 

Dominic Cummings lashed out at Boris Johnson and accused the Prime Minister of being responsible for a series of false allegations about him in the media.

Mr Johnson’s former top adviser denied he was responsible for the leak of private texts in which the Prime Minister promised to “fix” a tax issue for the entrepreneur Sir James Dyson.

In a lengthy blog posting he also claimed the Prime Minister had tried to stop an inquiry into the leak last year of plans for a second lockdown because it implicated a friend of his fiancee, Carrie Symonds.

The Northern Echo:

May 2021

The ousted chief advisor gave damning evidence before the joint Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee in to the government's handling of the pandemic. 

Mr Cummings told MPs he thought Mr Johnson “unfit for the job” of the Prime Minister - you can find Mr Cummings' key revelations here as we are just going to look at Barnard Castle below.

There was uproar both in the media and among the public after it emerged that Mr Cummings and his family had defied stay-at-home rules during the first lockdown last year to travel to Durham.

Mr Cummings said he did not disclose at the time that, as well as facing childcare troubles when he and his wife fell ill with Covid, there were also security motivations behind the 260-mile journey, with a gang appearing outside the family’s London home “saying they’re going to break into the house and kill everybody inside” in February 2020.

The former No 10 adviser said he was “extremely sorry” about the infamous episode, which was “definitely a major disaster for the Government and for the Covid policy”.

He said it was decided with the Cabinet Office after that – combined with press coverage that prompted more threats – he would move his family out of London to his parents’ home in County Durham regardless of lockdown rules.

The Northern Echo: