DOWNING Street has leapt to senior adviser Dominic Cummings’s defence after it emerged he travelled 250 miles to stay with his parents while sick with Covid-19 during lockdown.

There is a chorus of calls for the Prime Minister’s top adviser to resign or be sacked this morning after the Guardian and Mirror revealed the controversial figure had made the trip from London to Durham so his son could receive childcare while he and his wife were sick.

At the time of the trip only essential travel was permitted, while the official rules for those with Covid-19 symptoms has long been that they must self-isolate for seven days, and the rest of their household for 14 days.

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The Prime Minister’s office this morning released a statement in response to the backlash, insisting the journey counted as “essential”.

The statement said: "Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.

“His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed. His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside.

“At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported. His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally."

And online Tories began to defend Cummings after hours of silence. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove posted: “Caring for your wife and child is not a crime.”

And Harlow MP Robert Halfon posted: “Ill couple drive 260+ miles to ensure that their small child can be looked after properly. In some quarters this is regarded as crime of the century. Is this really the kind of country we are?”

Meanwhile, the Durham police and crime commissioner Steve White criticised Cummings for the journey.

He wrote: "Given the whole ethos of the guidance and regulations was designed to reduce the spread, regardless of reason, by travelling to County Durham when known to be infected was most unwise.

"To beat this crisis we need to be selfless as millions have been. The response by the people of Durham has been exemplary which makes this most frustrating and concerning."