Bishops join in criticism of Cummings amid calls to step down over lockdown travel

Top aide Dominic Cummings(Photo: Reuters)

Church of England bishops have added their voices to a string of criticism against Dominic Cummings after he allegedly breached self-isolation rules to travel to the north-east of England. 

The Prime Minister is under increasing pressure to fire the senior aide over claims that he travelled 260 miles to Durham to see his parents. 

The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, said on Twitter: "The question now is: do we accept being lied to, patronised and treated by a PM as mugs? The moral question is not for Cummings - it is for PM and ministers/MPs who find this behaviour acceptable. What are we to teach our children? (I ask as a responsible father.)"

The Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, said she and many others had been unable to visit their parents as they adhered to lockdown measures.

She wrote on Twitter: "Integrity, trust and leadership were never there; just a driven misguided ideology of power that has total disregard for the most weak and vulnerable, and those who work to protect and care for us with relatively low pay."

She said: "My parents live in Durham, an hour away from where we live. My father finished radiotherapy treatment just before lockdown.

"I've missed his birthday, Mothering Sunday and countless other catch-ups that would have happened. And that's a fraction of a story compared with others."

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev Paul Bayes, said: "Those many millions of people who have followed the Government's advice and stayed home, coping with difficulty did the right thing and still do.

"Vulnerable people are alive today because of the self-discipline of so many. I thank God for their integrity."

Their comments follow a press conference by the Prime Minister on Sunday night in which he defended Mr Cummings, saying he had acted "responsibly, legally and with integrity". 

Steve Baker, Caroline Nokes and Tim Loughton are among the MPs to have called for his resignation.