‘I couldn’t be with my mother when she died. How then can Dominic Cummings flagrantly disregard the lockdown rules?’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aid Dominic Cummings. Photograph: Aaron Chown / PA Wire
24 May 2020 @ 12.24 pm
| News

A York man who had to say goodbye to his mother by phone as she died of coronavirus in a care home has condemned Dominic Cummings’ ‘arrogance and contempt’ for apparently ignoring the lockdown rules.

John Tomsett, head teacher of Huntington School, said it seemed like ‘one rule for one set of people and one rule for another’.

John Tomsett speaking on Sky News. Photograph: Screengrab

He was speaking after sending a letter to York Outer MP Julian Sturdy saying he was ‘appalled at Cummings’ disregard for the lock-down rules he had a hand in making’.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to sack Mr Cummings, his chief aide, after reports surfaced that the 48-year-old made two trips to County Durham, where his family lives, despite stringent social restrictions being in place.

Speaking on Sky News today, John Tomsett said: “To see Dominic Cummings allegedly at Barnard Castle which looks like where he went for his wife’s birthday on 12 April, just seems to me just too much.”

‘I said my last words to her’

John Tomsett’s mother. Photograph: John Tomsett

In his Sky News interview, he explained that his mother was in a care home in Sussex.

She died on 18 April of coronavirus, five days after the first infection in the home.

John said:

  • The day before I was going out on my daily walk around York and I got a phone call from the care home.

    They said ‘you need to speak to your mum now’. They put her on speaker phone.

    My mum couldn’t talk. I said my last words to her. I said I loved her, thanks for everything.

    And the care home worker Gillian said, ‘I can see your mum nodding. She knows it’s you but she can’t say anything because she’s in such pain’.

“It was a really difficult experience,” John said.

“I lost my dad 35 years ago and I never said goodbye to him – I was at university when he died.

“And I vowed I wouldn’t do the same with my mother. But I couldn’t go and see her in the last six weeks of her life because of lockdown.

“But it’s like that for thousands of people across the country.”

‘Real arrogance, real contempt’

Because of the lockdown rules, John made the 520-mile round trip to his mother’s funeral in one day, rather than stay with his sister who lived in Sussex.

John said his wife’s family also live away from York, in Glossop, Derbyshire.

If they had been in the same circumstances as Mr Cummings, showing coronavirus symptoms and with a four-year-old child, “we would have toughed it out, and our friends would have delivered food and we would have survived”.

John said: “You cannot have one rule for one set of people and one rule for another.

“The lockdown exists purely on moral grounds. Everybody is taking the hit.

“The other thing that really got to me in my craw was watching Dominic Cummings come out of his house yesterday and telling the journalists to socially distance two metres apart.

“That just smacked for me of real arrogance, and real contempt. It was really clear in the advice if you have coronavirus you stay inside no matter what.”

This is the letter John Tomsett has sent to York Outer MP Julian Sturdy

Dear Julian

My mother died of Covid 19, alone in a care home in Sussex on 18 April 2020.

I was unable to visit her during the last few weeks and days of her life because of the lock-down measures imposed by your government, advised by Dominic Cummings.

It now appears that Cummings not only broke the lock-down rules himself, he did so flagrantly. His response today has been arrogance personified.

When I did, finally, make a 520-mile round trip from York to Sussex and back to see my mother, it was to bury her body.

I completed the 520-mile round trip in a single day because I thought staying at my sister’s house in Sussex contravened the lockdown rules.

I know you to be a man of integrity and intelligence. I am sure you can appreciate why I am appalled at Cummings’ disregard for the lockdown rules he had a hand in making.

Please make my story known to Number 10; there are thousands of similar stories across the land.