Couple claiming they ‘saw Dominic Cummings’ make official complaint

A couple who claim they saw Dominic Cummings on a second lockdown trip have complained to the police watchdog.

The witnesses want to know how officers investigated their case after they reported that they were "100% certain" that the chief aide had been out walking in Houghall Woods near Durham the morning of Sunday April 19.

According to Mirror Online, Dave and Clare Edwards put in an official complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct on Wednesday about Durham Police’s inquiry into their allegations.

A third witness also claims to have seen Mr Cummings in the local beauty spot that morning and said: "I would recognise him again."

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Mr Cummings has described as “false” allegations that he made a second trip to the North East, after the Mirror and Guardian revealed his first trip.

He suggested witnesses who claimed they had seen him in Houghall Woods were mistaken and said he had walked in woodland during his earlier self-isolation but on his parents’ land.

The Tory adviser drove 260 miles with his wife, who had symptoms, and son to self-isolate at his parents’ home on March 27 at the height of the lockdown.

Dominic Cummings, adviser to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

During their two-week stay the family took a day-trip to Barnard Castle, 30 miles away, on April 12, which he later claimed was to test his eye-sight.

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But in an extraordinary press conference in the No 10 garden, the top aide denied claims by a member of the public that he was in Durham on April 19, saying he had photos and data on his phone to prove it.

A No 10 spokesman said on Thursday: “Durham Constabulary have made clear they are not taking any further action against Mr Cummings and that by locating himself at his father’s premises he did not breach the regulations.

“The Prime Minister has said he believes Mr Cummings behaved reasonably and he considers the matter closed.”

The coronavirus crisis has left a trail of devastation, resulting in more than 46,000 deaths so far and warnings of thousands of job losses as the lockdown takes its toll on the economy.

Clare Edwards, a nurse practitioner, and her Conservative-voting husband Dave, who works in manufacturing, reported their alleged sighting to Durham Police in May.

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It came after an initial witness, who first got in touch with the Mirror on April 19, claimed that both he and his wife had spotted the PM’s top aide while walking in Houghall Woods that morning.

The man, who did not want to be named, said Mr Cummings, who was with a female companion, commented as he passed by: “Aren’t the bluebells lovely?”

Since then another new witness, who also wishes to remain anonymous, claims they saw the No 10 aide and his wife walking between the local beauty spot and the family home the same morning.

Mr Cummings denies he was in Durham on April 19 and Durham Constabulary have seen insufficient evidence to support this allegation.

They concluded he may have committed a “minor breach” of the regulations when he drove to Barnard Castle on April 12 – also his wife’s birthday – but no further action would be taken.

The couple then put in a so-called Subject Access Request to establish how the force had handled their personal information – which they hoped might reveal how their complaint was followed up.

Clare Edwards (pictured) put in an official complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct

The details, heavily redacted and marked ‘official-sensitive’, eventually arrived last week but the couple, both 59, felt they showed their claims had not been taken seriously.

They have now written to the IOPC, which oversees the police complaints system in England, asking them to look into the force’s handling of their allegation.

They wrote: “Given the high profile nature of this issue it is inconceivable that this matter has not been followed up thoroughly.

“We have no personal issue with Mr Cummings or his family, but we do feel that Durham Police’s handling of our complaint is below the standard we would expect from our local constabulary.

“We ask that the IOPC investigate whether Durham Police acted thoroughly in their investigation of this matter.”

A Durham Constabulary spokesman said: “As outlined in our statement of May 28, Durham Constabulary carried out an investigation into this matter led by a senior detective and found insufficient evidence to support the allegation”.

During a press conference at Downing Street, Cummings refused to apologise for his lockdown trip

The couple told the Mirror they had been “shocked and surprised” to see the man they believed to be Mr Cummings among a group of five adults and a child by the side of the path.

Mr Edwards, who works for a local company which supplied goods to Nightingale Hospitals, said: “He was the dead image of Dominic Cummings. He was standing over a small child on a bike.

“As I got through the clearing I said to my wife, ‘Did you see Dominic Cummings there?’

"If it wasn’t him he would win the Dominic Cummings look-a-like award.

“He was identical to the TV footage – dark beanie hat, dark-rimmed glasses. If it was mistaken identity, the police could have ruled that out.”

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Mrs Edwards, a nurse and care home worker for 35 years, said she told her husband: “‘Oh no it can’t be’. And I looked at him and there was this man who looked just like Dominic Cummings.

“He had a beanie hat, was wearing glasses, he was tall and angular.

"I was so convinced. But I thought no it can’t possibly be him, he’s in London and we’re in lockdown.”

The mother-of-three claims: “I am 100% certain it was Dominic Cummings. The way he looked – I just know it was him."

The top aide refused to apologise for his two-week visit to the North East earlier this year saying he and his wife thought they might need childcare for their four-year-old son in case they both fell ill.