Prime Minister Boris Johnson resisted pressure from his own party on Sunday and supported senior aide Dominic Cummings on charges of violating the rules for blocking corona viruses.
Cummings has been an extremely controversial figure in British politics alongside Johnson since the successful Brexit campaign in 2016.
But Johnson declined calls to release him after he came under fire because he and his wife had traveled across the country while suffering from symptoms of the disease when the official advice was to isolate them at home.
Johnson said during the press conference on Sunday that he believed Cummings "acted responsibly, legally, and with integrity" after the couple conducted crisis talks.
"I have come to the conclusion that he is traveling to find the right kind of childcare, the moment that both he and his wife should be incapacitated by the coronavirus and when he had no alternative, in my opinion according to the instincts of every father and every individual is followed by parents, "he added.
Cummings was seen with his son on March 31 near his parents' home in Durham, north-east England, more than 400 kilometers from his home in London, the day after he reported symptoms himself.
The Observer and Sunday Mirror reported that he had again violated the restrictions and was seen a second time in Durham on April 19, days after he returned to work in London after his first trip north.
A named witness informed the newspapers that Cummings was also sighted in Barnard Castle on April 12, 30 kilometers from Durham.
Cummings has denied the recent claims that have sparked a public outcry, especially among people who have avoided contact with older relatives, some of whom have died from the virus.
– & # 39; I have to go & # 39; –
Johnson also announced that primary schools in England would reopen to some students on June 1 to ease restrictions.
The school's announcement, however, was overshadowed by the ongoing argument about Cummings.
Deputy chief physician Jenny Harries said on Saturday that there is some room for maneuver in the blocking rules if both parents are sick. "Every guide has common sense, including protecting adults or children."
It was still unclear whether Cummings was symptomatic when the family started the trip.
Tory MP Steve Baker, a staunch Brexite but critic of Cummings, called for his dismissal, as did another leading Eurosceptic, Peter Bone, who said he had to "go".
Many contrasted the decision to support Cummings with the treatment of Scotland's former chief medical officer and a government scientific advisor, both of whom had to resign for violating the ban rules.
Johnson's support did little to calm the outrage – and raised questions about his political judgment.
The main opposition Labor leader, Keir Starmer, said Johnson failed the test and insulted the public, who made great sacrifices during the crisis.
"The public is forgiven for having one rule for the Prime Minister's closest adviser and another rule for the British people," he said.
"The Prime Minister's actions have undermined confidence in his own public health message at this crucial time," he added.
And in a tweet there was obvious outrage in the supposedly neutral British civil service. "Arrogant and insulting," it said. "Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?"
The tweet was later deleted.
– police line –
Cummings also denied reports in The Guardian newspaper that the police spoke directly to him or his family about a notice they received on March 31 that he was in Durham.
The group insists that they called Cummings' father, but Shapps said on Sunday that it was the family who initiated the contact to discuss safety precautions.
Cummings said to a crowd of reporters on Saturday as they left his home that it was "a question of the right thing, not what you think" while the group was reprimanded for violating socially distant rules.
Downing Street revealed in late March that Cummings isolated itself with virus symptoms. Johnson was also infected and ended up in the intensive care unit.
Britain was the most affected country in Europe, with 36,793 confirmed deaths, 118 in the last 24 hours.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)