Dominic Cummings may have broken Highway Code with test drive to Barnard Castle, former top police chief says

Dominic Cummings may have broken the Highway Code by driving to Barnard Castle to test his vision, a senior ex-police officer has said.

Former Greater Manchester Police chief constable Sir Peter Fahy said the journey to the town, which Mr Cummings has said was to test his eyesight ahead of a longer journey back to London , was “ill-advised” and potentially put others in danger.

Sir Peter, who was head of Prevent from 2010 to 2015, also said he believed that Mr Cummings may have been sent back to London if he had been stopped by police on his drive up to Durham.

He added that officers are “frustrated” by the actions of the Prime Minister’s chief adviser , amid concerns of “confusion” around reasons to travel.

The intervention comes as the government tries to shift the focus away from the row about Mr Cummings’ trip to Durham during the coronavirus lockdown.

Asked if Mr Cummings would have been sent home if an officer had stopped him on his way to Durham, Sir Peter told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think at that point, in terms of what was the understanding of the regulations and the Government messaging, I think it may well be that absolutely he’d have been turned back, as many other people were turned back from things that they were doing.”

He was then asked about Mr Cummings’s drive to Barnard Castle. During an unprecedented press conference on Monday, Mr Cummings said he drove his family to the town to test his eyesight to see if he could make the trip back down to London, 15 days after he had displayed symptoms. He said he had some eyesight problems during his illness.

Sir Peter replied: “Clearly, number one, that’s ill-advised as a means of testing your eyesight as to whether you’re fit to drive, but again it’s hard to see – unless there’s some justification that that was to take daily exercise – how that was justified.”

Pressed on whether if it was a criminal offence, Sir Peter replied: “It certainly appears to be against the Highway Code, it’s not the way to test your eyesight, and put potentially other people in danger.”

Sir Peter also said it was now hard to see the role of police going forward, adding: “The rules about the reasons for travel are now very confused. When you see the crowds on Bournemouth and Southend beaches and other places yesterday, it’s hard to see what role the police have in trying to control that.”

He added: “There’s a lot of confusion and it feels like there’s quite a gap between the public narrative and narrative of ministers about the lockdown and what’s happening on the street.”

Mr Cummings said he believed he had acted “reasonably” and legally when he drove 260 miles from home in March.

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