Boris Johnson raged that Dominic Cummings was a “total and utter liar” after his lockdown trip to Barnard Castle became public.

In messages shared with the Covid inquiry, dated July 19 2021, Mr Johnson said: “Cummings a total and utter liar. He never told me he had gone to Durham during lockdown.

“I only discovered when the stories started to come out about Barnard Castle etc. I believed Mary Wakefield when she wrote a piece in spec giving impression they had been in London the whole time.

The Northern Echo: Dominic Cummings, who served as the then-prime minister’s chief adviser, initiated a barrage of

“He later claimed that he had told me but that my brain was so fogged by Covid that I didn’t register.

“It’s not true, I would have noted it.

“He never told me. I then tried my very best to defend him.”

Cummings became notorious when it emerged he had taken a day trip to Barnard Castle in April 2020, while the country was in lockdown.

At the time PM publically pledged his “full support” 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.

The Northern Echo: File photograph of former prime minister Boris Johnson

Cummings said he did not ignore the rules by driving to Durham with coronavirus and then driving to Barnard Castle to “test his eyesight”.

At the time a 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.”

At today's hearing, Cummings said that the handling by Downing Street of the fallout from his trip to Barnard Castle was an “absolute car crash” and “did cause a lot of people pain”.

He was quizzed on the high-profile controversy and the impact it had on confidence in the Government during his appearance at the Covid inquiry.

He said: “It was certainly a disaster, the whole handling of the situation. But there were other factors involved with it all as well – testing and PPE and many other things were all going haywire at the time.”

He said it was “completely reasonable” for security reasons to move his family out of his house, but on the Barnard Castle revelations he said the way it was “handled it was an absolute car crash and disaster and did cause a lot of people pain”.

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But he added: “In terms of my actual actions in going north and then coming back down I acted entirely reasonably and legally and did not break any rules.”

Former chief scientist Sir Patrick Vallance described Cummings’ press conference on his lockdown trip to Barnard Castle as a “car crash” by the former chief scientist. He said the journey had clearly gone against the rules at the time.

Sir Patrick Vallance, writing in his notebooks at the time in May 2020, also said he and England’s then-chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty felt No 10 officials were trying to “strong arm” them into appearing by Boris Johnson’s side at a Downing Street press conference afterward.