Richard Westwood, Vicar of St Anne's Church in Chasetown. Picture: St Anne's Church

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A Burntwood vicar says the Government’s stance on Dominic Cummings is “insulting” to people who have followed the coronavirus guidelines.

Boris Johnson has defended his senior advisor after it emerged he made a trip to Durham during the lockdown period.

A series of Conservative MPs and ministers have moved to support the decision not to take any further action and keep Mr Cummings in post.

But Richard Westwood, vicar at St Anne’s Church in Chasetown, has now written to Michael Fabricant MP to register his concern over the Government’s position.

“During my lifetime there has not been a time when there has been a greater need for the UK Government to be trusted by the people they lead.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched every part of our national and community life, and the next steps in emerging from this crisis are arguably the most difficult to manage.

“I, like many people across the constituency and the country, have been astonished at the behaviour of our Government in recent days.

“The manner with which Mr Cummings has been defended by cabinet ministers leaves me speechless.”

Richard Westwood, vicar of St Anne’s Church in Chasetown

The vicar said he found the stance of the Government to be “insulting” to residents who had followed the guidance.

“Had Mr Cummings spoken with a contrite and humble tone and apologised for making an error of judgement in the middle of a family health crisis, I think many in our nation would have identified with the dilemma he and his family faced and would have understood and forgiven his actions.

“Sadly, there was no evidence whatsoever of any form of humility or apology in what he said, or in what the Prime Minister has said in his comments about the matter.

“Like many others, I found it insulting to be subjected to a retrospective representation of clearly laid out Government guidelines which the vast majority of our country has bravely stuck to in recent weeks.

“In our community, the Burntwood Be A Friend support network has been helping local families affected by COVID-19 – some of them with just the same issues and dilemmas which Mr Cummings faced.

“Remarkably, and at great cost to themselves and others, they managed to stick to the clear instruction to ‘stay at home’. Are these people less of a good parent because they followed the rules?”

Richard Westwood, Vicar of St Anne’s Church in Chasetown

“Serious and potentially deadly consequences”

The vicar added that the public needed to feel confident in the guidance they were being given by the Government going forward.

And he said the example needed to be set at the very top.

“If this were a mere political story I could write it off as a Westminster storm-in-a-teacup – but it is clear that if the general public believes it is reasonable to interpret public health guidance according to their own instincts, then the potential risk of a second wave of infections will only increase.

“Surely the Government knows that if people cannot co-operate with the health advice which they receive, there will be serious and potentially deadly consequences to this lack of compliance?

“It is for these reasons that trust and transparency are vital in the current health crisis.

“Our nation needs the Government to act with integrity in these matters. I do not believe we are seeing this at present.”

Richard Westwood, vicar of St Anne’s Church in Chasetown

Mr Fabricant has previously said he understands the anger people feel on the issue around Mr Cummings – but added “it is not clear he has broken the rules”.

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15 Comments

  1. Why is it that everyone seems to follow the press and BBC bias. Mr Cummings did follow the guidelines . People need to read them more carefully!!!!! I am surprised that a. I at would be so vindictive!

  2. Or, and here’s a thought J buck, it might be that people have looked at this for themselves and realised that Cummings is a charlatan and modern day spiv. Turn your argument around and it reads ‘why is it that everyone seems to follow the Conservative bias?’ – see how easy it is to play the ‘I’m right’ game?

    Regardless of how one interprets the guidelines, given this is what Johnson now says is acceptable, Cummings has clearly made up large proportions of his story to fit the version of events. A 30 minute drive with his child to test his eyes, which coincidentally was a drive to a local tourist spot on the day of his wife’s birthday (and what lovely weather it was too). There’s plenty of others, but I have a feeling you’ve made your mind up already.

    I do hope that Nigerian prince’s billion dollars get transferred into your account soon, bucky.

  3. It’s remarkable how when the guidelines were first announced the very same people who were beside themselves with woe due to being unable to cope with the “confusion” and “uncertainty” of what they meant and what was permitted, were suddenly able to forensically analyse and establish a critique of the actions of others. A turnaround so breathtaking as to be almost Damascene in its magnitude.
    Well done them.

  4. Sirs don’t waste your time fabo will stick with Boris to protect his 80 odd grand a year. Cummins broke the rules drawn up by Cummins end of

  5. Rubbish, Rob. The guidelines were perfectly clear and the vast majority followed them. For the PM to suggest that you can just do as you see fit and risk spreading this illness around the country in the name of being a good parent is insulting to anyone who acted decently. I can tell Rob is rattled because his response goes on for longer than the usual one-liner. Empty vessels and all that.

  6. An uncharitable vicar. That’s why we have a lot of atheists. If Cummings was guilty it’s a sixty quid fine. Witch hunt it is.

  7. Do people not realise that their civil liberties are being denied them by the government. This is no longer the land of the free. It is by no means certain that some of the measures being taken won’t persist after this virus has passed. On the spot fines will proliferate for one thing.
    Alarmist? Well you can’t help being cynical in the light of the Prime Ministers defence of Cummings. Decency should rise above politics.
    Johnson will be defined by this lack of integrity. History will show who made the sacrifices in this pandemic. I suspect few will have had second bolt holes, or the compliance of the constabulary.

  8. Anyone who thinks Cummings has obeyed the law has blinkers. It’s totally ridiculous.
    But let’s use our common sense and move on…
    So I was pleased to hear Hancock announce track & trace tonight until he said if you are contacted by nhs as a contact of a positive person, you isolate at home but your family can go about as normal.
    On what planet can you be a contact of a positive person and the people you isolate with are free to pass it on to their contacts.
    I was so hopeful but soon lost that feeling, they’re absolutely inept this govt.

  9. I am always amazed how the indefensible is not only defended but deemed to be the fault of those insulted, a trait shared throughout the strata of one particular political grouping. Yes, it is either somebody else’s fault or you didn’t understand because you are thick plebs. I am glad Rev Westwood, one of those at the centre of Burntwood Be A Friend, has articulated how many feel. Thank you, Rob in particular, for proving what many thought already.

  10. Like all those “poorly-educated, xenophobic, knuckle-dragging, little-Englander” type of thick plebs who voted Leave, do you mean John?

  11. Though not relavent to Lichfield , Cumbria has one of the highest levels of covid and has been pleading do not come. Three Tory MP’s for Cumbria are backing what Cummins did. There electorate are up in arms,take care Fabo

  12. Guys, my eyesight is playing up. I’ve got a long drive to do so, just to “test”, I’m going to put my son in the car and go around Lichfield – just to see how much I crash.

  13. Well, having spotted the link below this very comment, advertising Mr Fabricant’s context details, I chose to send a question to him using the online form on the website. My question related to childcare during lockdown (what was/wasn’t allowed etc). That was 5 days ago – I’ve still not had a reply. A friend of of mine email him and got a reply not long after he sent his question!

    Is this what Lichfield elected?? An MP who not only chooses to not answer certain questions, but who goes one further and just completely ignores you…..?

    Nice.

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