One of the journalists who broke the story that Dominic Cummings had travelled to Durham during the lockdown has said he was “riled” when the special adviser tried to blame the media for public anger at his actions.
Members of the media were also angered at the weekend by Downing Street’s refusal to shed light on what it called “a stream of false allegations about Mr Cummings from campaigning newspapers”.
Guardian reporter Matthew Weaver and Daily Mirror political editor Pippa Crerar jointly broke the story on Friday night.
They teamed up after realising they were both pursuing tips that Cummings had travelled from London to Durham when his wife had coronavirus symptoms, despite strict “stay at home” guidance being in place.
The journalists spent seven weeks working on the story because, as Weaver told the Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast: “This story had to be absolutely bulletproof.”
Downing Street refused to comment until after the story was published, which came once Durham Police provided a statement confirming they had spoken to the Cummings family.
Weaver said that waiting for 8pm, the agreed publication time with the Mirror, was “so tense… knowing we had this bomb that was about to go off”.
Soon after publication he received a tip that Cummings had also travelled 30 miles from Durham to the beauty spot of Barnard Castle.
The newspapers had also held back allegations that Cummings had gone to Durham a second time after returning to London – the only part of the story he still denies.
“We knew that it wasn’t the end of the story and we had another ‘boom’ moment coming on Saturday night,” Weaver said.
But after an intense few days, including a briefing at which Boris Johnson stood by his closest adviser, it was at Monday’s press conference with Cummings – called that day – that Weaver felt most aggrieved.
Cummings said: “If you’re someone sitting at home watching a lot of the media over the last three days then I think lots of people would be very angry and I completely understand that…”
“I got pretty riled at that bit,” Weaver said.
“I thought to blame us for reporting what he did for generating this anger was really disingenuous. He has created the anger, not us and not the way we’ve reported it.”
Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire