Ex-brother-in-law of PM’s chief aide comes to his defence over allegations he broke lockdown rules 

Dominic Cummings’s ex-brother-in-law last night rode to his defence by insisting it was ‘very, very easy’ for the PM’s chief adviser to self-isolate at his parents’ home in Durham.

Matthew Herriott, a farmer who lives close to North Lodge, said that the property includes a number of self-contained apartments attached to the main building, which are only accessible via a separate entrance.

It meant that Cummings, his wife Mary Wakefield and their young son were able to stay in the £800,0000 sandstone farmhouse without coming into contact with his parents, Morag and Robert.

Under fire: Dominic Cummings and his wife Mary Wakefield leaving home yesterday

Under fire: Dominic Cummings and his wife Mary Wakefield leaving home yesterday

Under fire: Dominic Cummings and his wife Mary Wakefield leaving home yesterday

There are also outbuildings on the estate where guests are believed to stay from time to time.

In a statement yesterday, Downing Street insisted Mr Cummings’s sister shopped for the family and left everything outside the door.

‘North Lodge is without question big enough to accommodate that amount of people,’ Mr Herriott told The Mail on Sunday. ‘It’s one building but it’s split into separate apartments so it’s very, very easy for everyone to self-isolate.

‘It has several extensions, if you will, so it’s more than adequate to live there and not to have any contact with anybody whatsoever. It is also set in an acre of grounds I believe.’

The property includes a number of self-contained apartments attached to the main building, which are only accessible via a separate entrance

The property includes a number of self-contained apartments attached to the main building, which are only accessible via a separate entrance

The property includes a number of self-contained apartments attached to the main building, which are only accessible via a separate entrance

In a statement yesterday, Downing Street insisted Mr Cummings’s sister shopped for the family and left everything outside the door

In a statement yesterday, Downing Street insisted Mr Cummings’s sister shopped for the family and left everything outside the door

In a statement yesterday, Downing Street insisted Mr Cummings’s sister shopped for the family and left everything outside the door

Mr Cummings’s father bought the property in 1999 after retiring from the oil industry.

Mr Cummings, who is now co-owner of North Lodge with his father, came under fire last year after it emerged that his family had received £235,000 in EU farming subsidies. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing. It is believed he became an owner of the cottage in 2002 after leaving his job as the Conservative Party’s head of strategy.

According to a profile of Mr Cummings by the Conservative Home website, after quitting the job, ‘he then proceeded to spend two and a half years in a bunker he and his father built for him on their farm in Durham, reading science and history and trying to understand the world’.

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