Many constituents have written to me over the last few days asking for my view on the actions of the Prime Minister’s adviser.
I do not know him and I certainly do not like passing judgement on somebody else's character, decision making, or personal circumstances, in haste and without the full facts. I have seen the Prime Minister's adviser make a detailed statement and I have read your correspondence on this issue since the weekend.
As far as I see it, the trip to Barnard Castle was wrong. It was a breach of the guidelines. When you consider the sacrifices we have all made in not travelling to local beauty spots to walk our dogs, or take exercise, he should be setting a far better example. I have made this clear to the Whips and to Number 10. The value of his continued work, however, is a judgement for the Prime Minister and he has made his decision.
The drive to be in an isolated house by his support network in Durham isn't so clear cut. In this case, the immediate welfare of a vulnerable four year old child was at stake. I am satisfied that this decision was taken in the best interests of his child and did not breach the rules, particularly given the exceptional nature of the death threats and hostility that his family were facing (and sadly continue to face) in their own home. This was not about breaking the rules to visit relatives, as many have alluded to, but ensuring help was safely at hand nearby - in exceptional circumstances. I do not believe these actions were unreasonable, nor should they undermine public health messaging, as some have claimed.
Our joint response to this pandemic in Tiverton & Honiton has been exceptional. We have each contributed to the South West having one of the lowest numbers of Covid-19 cases in the country and we should be proud of our efforts. Let's not lose focus.
As a result of this episode, time has sadly been taken away from helping the many constituents with urgent casework enquiries. That work is my priority. Recovery is on the horizon, but so too is the probability of the worst recession for a very long time. Finding a balance and working towards a safe recovery must be our collective endeavour in the weeks and months ahead.