A witness to an alleged lockdown violation by top Boris Johnson said he was interviewed by police after the prime minister was pressured from his own party during Durham’s journey by Dominic Cummings.
Robin Lees described a “thorough” conversation with officers about his claim that he had seen Cummings and his family walking along the River Tees on Easter Sunday.
It comes when a minister stopped protesting the senior assistant who remained in his number 10 post, and dozens of conservative MPs called on Mr. Cummings to go despite cabinet members seeking to protect the controversial advisor.
The Guardian reported that Mr Lees was interviewed on Monday evening after Mr Cummings delivered an extraordinary press conference in Downing Street.
The retired Barnard Castle teacher told the newspaper, “They were very thorough and asked every detail of what I saw. They were not in uniform.
“They asked me a lot about my background. They wanted to know exactly what time it was. They wanted to know if it was a clear day and I knew what Cummings looked like. “
Speaking on television on Monday, Mr. Cummings said he had driven half an hour and ended up at a riverside on the outskirts of Barnard Castle Town on Easter Sunday to test his eyesight before making the long journey back to London, the following day.
Returning in the car, an elderly gentleman walking around seemed to recognize him, he said, adding that his wife wished the man a happy Easter “but we had no interaction with him.”
Tuesday was the first resignation of a minister since Mr Cummings’ trip was revealed in a joint investigation by the Guardian and Mirror late on Friday.
Douglas Ross, Secretary of State for Scotland, said he could not remain in government after hearing Mr Cummings’ efforts to defend his trip from London to Durham despite the coronavirus lock.
Dozens of conservative MPs have said that Mr Cummings should go despite ministers seeking to protect the controversial adviser.
Efforts to defend Mr. Cummings’ actions even led health secretary Matt Hancock to indicate that fines imposed on parents for excluding childcare rules could be reviewed.
In his statement of resignation, Mr. Ross, MP for Moray, said: “I have voters who could not say goodbye to loved ones; families who could not mourn together; people who did not visit sick relatives because they followed government guidelines.
“I can’t tell them in good faith that they were all wrong and that a senior government adviser was right.”
Scottish conservative leader Jackson Carlaw added his vote to dozens of Tory MPs calling for the assistant to be stopped or fired by the Prime Minister.
Downing Street insisted that the Prime Minister had not split the government by supporting Mr Cummings.
But the secretary of the community, Robert Jenrick, told BBC Radio 2 that his own mail bag showed that “many people still disagree” with Mr Cummings’ actions.
Critics accused Mr Cummings of undermining the government’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has so far been linked to more than 47,300 deaths in the UK.
Mr. Cummings said he had driven to Durham to isolate a property on his father’s farm because of concerns about who would take care of his four-year-old son if he and his wife were incapacitated for work by Covid-19.
At the Downing Street press conference, a member of the public asked Mr. Hancock whether the government would now review all fines imposed on families traveling for childcare during the closure.
Mr Hancock said it was a “very good question” and indicated that he would consult and “look at it” the Treasury.
Tory MPs who were confronted with angry voter correspondence over the weekend expressed their views on the queue, with at least 27 calling on Mr Cummings to go.
Former Attorney General Jeremy Wright called on Mr. Cummings to quit, saying that his actions may have been technically within the rules, but that efforts to fight Covid-19 stemmed from the fact that “people wholeheartedly letter of the restrictions that were imposed wholeheartedly accepted “but also their minds”.
Former Chief Mark Harper said Mr Cummings “should have offered to resign, and the Prime Minister should have resigned”.
MPs from the 2019 intake – who partly owed their positions to the campaign that helped Mr Cummings – also called on him to face the consequences of his actions.
Simon Jupp said he felt “anger, disappointment and frustration” and suggested that Mr. Cummings consider his position, Craig Whittaker said he should be reprimanded and Elliot Colburn said he should resign because he got government messages on combating the spread of the virus.
Mr Cummings has argued that his trip to Durham in March was justified for trying to protect the health of his family.
But many questions remained unanswered, including on his next drive to Barnard Castle, which he said would test his eyesight after being affected by Covid-19.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said the trip, some 25 miles from where the assistant isolated, was “perfectly appropriate” because he was “getting ready to go back to work” by checking that he was safe to drive the long journey back to London.
Former Greater Manchester Police chief Sir Peter Fahy told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that Mr Cummings’ journey to Barnard Castle “certainly violates the Highway Code – it’s not the way to test your eyesight and possibly endanger other people “.
Experts from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and Moorfields Eye Hospital said there was little evidence to link Covid-19 to vision problems.
About 71% of the British believe that Mr. Cummings has broken the block and 59% believe he should step down, according to a short poll of 1,160 adults by YouGov after the assistant’s defense, suggesting that his statement would have left public opinion turned against him further.