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Dominic Cummings: Durham police reject dossier of evidence on lockdown journeys

Exclusive: Former prosecutor Nazir Afzal to continue legal fight after force say they will take no action

Dominic Cummings in the No 10 garden

In his rose garden statement, Cummings claimed he had evidence that he was in London on 19 April and had not travelled for a second time to Durham. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/AFP/Getty Images

Durham police have rejected a 225-page dossier alleging that Dominic Cummings perverted the course of justice in his account of the lockdown journeys he made in the north-east of England at the height of the pandemic.

After more than three months considering the allegations, which included claims of multiple breaches of the lockdown rules by Cummings and his wife, Mary Wakefield, the force has decided to take no further action.

A former chief prosecutor for the north-west, Nazir Afzal, whose lawyers compiled the dossier, has vowed to carry on his legal fight, which includes launching a private prosecution against Cummings. “Justice takes time and I will carry on,” he said.

Afzal’s dossier claimed that statements Cummings gave during a press conference in Downing Street’s rose garden on 25 May 2020 affected the course of justice, as they were made as Durham police’s investigation into his behaviour was already under way.

But the force has stood by its decision in May to take no further action after a three-day investigation.

In a brief letter letter to Afzal’s lawyers, Durham’s deputy chief constable, Dave Orford, said: “We have considered all of the material provided. However, it does not change our decision from that outlined in our press release dated 28 May in respect of Mr Dominic Cummings and we take a similar view in relation to his wife Mary Wakefield.”

That press release said Cummings may have breached lockdown rules by travelling to Barnard Castle on 12 April, but the force decided to take no further action and it made no finding on his decision to leave London for Durham.

It also said there was “insufficient evidence” that Cummings travelled to Durham a second time on 19 April.

In his rose garden statement, Cummings claimed he had evidence that proved he was in London that day. Boris Johnson told MPs that he had seen that evidence, but No 10 has refused repeated requests to release it.

In August the Guardian and the Mirror revealed that four people had claimed seeing someone they believed to be Cummings in woods near Durham on the morning of 19 April. They included Dave and Clare Edwards, who gave statements to the police about the sighting at the same time Cummings was giving his rose garden statement.

Afzal’s lawyers claimed the evidence they presented to the force, including new material from fresh witnesses, met the legal test for such a prosecution. Durham police disagreed. Orford’s letter said: “We do not consider the relevant tests are made out in relation to any potential offences raised within your submission. Therefore, Durham constabulary will be taking no further action.”

In a statement, Afzal said Durham police’s decision was “hugely disappointing but not surprising”.

He added: “It’s not clear from the letter that we received whether the views of the Crown Prosecution Service were sought at all. And you will know that we submitted a 225-page submission including new evidence, especially witness evidence, of an alleged third breach [the alleged trip on 19 April] that Mr Cummings has not previously revealed.”

Discussing his options for possible broader action, Afzal said: “I am considering with my legal team what further avenues to pursue, because millions of you would want me to.”

Asked if he was considering a private prosecution, Afzal said: “We shall explore all options and don’t rule out any.”

He added: “We are nothing without the rule of law, and it applies to everybody or to nobody. When I learned that one of the architects of the rules that we all rightly had to comply [with] decided to ride a coach and horse through them, and that his political masters then decided to put a ring of steel around him, I had no choice but to do what I’ve done.

“All the research tells us that that one act diminished public confidence in that lockdown. Justice takes time and I will carry on because you would want me to.”

Cummings and Wakefield have been approached for comment.

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