Vigil at Barnard Castle ahead of Dominic Cummings’ Covid inquiry appearance

Families held a vigil for Covid-19 victims at the site of Dominic Cummings’ eyesight-testing lockdown trip, ahead of his appearance at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.

Campaigners projected the message “231,332 Covid deaths – is that clear enough to read?” on to the walls of Barnard Castle on Monday.

The County Durham beauty spot made headlines during the pandemic when it was disclosed that Mr Cummings, former prime minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser at the time, had taken a day trip there in April 2020, while the country was in lockdown.

Grieving families holding a vigil for loved ones lost to Covid-19 outside Barnard Castle
Grieving families holding a vigil for loved ones lost to Covid-19 outside Barnard Castle (Raouil Dixon/PA)

He later said he had driven there “to test his eyesight”.

The stunt is the latest by campaign groups 38 Degrees and Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, who previously flew a plane over the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! jungle to condemn former health secretary Matt Hancock’s appearance on the TV show.

They are calling for Mr Cummings’ appearance at the inquiry on Tuesday to be used to get “answers and justice” for grieving families rather than “raking up Westminster gossip”.

Barbara Herbert, spokesman for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK said: “The inquiry has shown us how chaos, political infighting and deceit in the heart of government let the nation down when our lives depended on those in power.

Dominic Cummings
Dominic Cummings will face the UK Covid-19 Inquiry on Tuesday (PA)

“Cummings, Johnson and Rishi Sunak have time and time again put their political careers before the public’s health. While they try and settle scores, we mourn over 231,332 loved ones lost to the virus.

“That must be the absolute focus of the questions that are put to Dominic Cummings tomorrow.”

Veronica Hawking, head of campaigns at 38 Degrees, said: “Dominic Cummings’ day trip to Barnard Castle has become symbolic of the contempt these pandemic victims were treated with by people at the very top of Government.

“Neither bereaved families nor the British public can move on until we’re confident lessons have been learned and justice served.

“Whilst Mr Cummings might try to use his appearance to point fingers and rake up Westminster gossip, we wanted to move the spotlight away from the cult of personalities to the reason this inquiry is taking place – to get the answers and justice that everyone who lost loved ones to Covid deserves.”