Former prime minister Theresa May says Dominic Cummings did not “followed the spirit” of the lockdown guidance.
In a message to her constituents in Maidenhead, Berkshire, Mrs May said said she can “well understand the anger” of people who had obeyed the guidance while the PM’s aide drove from London to a family farm in Durham.
She added: “What this matter has shown is that there was a discrepancy between the simple messages given by the Government and the details of the legislation passed by Parliament.
“In these circumstances I do not feel that Mr Cummings followed the spirit of the guidance.
“I can well understand the anger of those who have been abiding by the spirit of the guidance given by the Government and expect others to do so.”
But in the message, seen by the PA news agency, Mrs May said she was concerned that the focus on Mr Cummings was “detracting from the most important task” of dealing with coronavirus.
She added: “One of my biggest concerns has been that the ongoing focus on Mr Cummings has been detracting from the most important task, which is dealing with Coronavirus and starting the process of recovery and easing lockdown.”
Her message emerged a day after Durham Constabulary said it would have taken action if police officers had stopped Mr Cummings on his 50-mile round trip to Barnard Castle.
But the force said it did not consider Mr Cummings had committed an offence by locating himself at his father’s farm in the county.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday he regarded the issue as “closed” after the police said they did not intend to take “retrospective action”, though the force found that the aide may have committed “a minor breach” of lockdown rules in driving to the town.
Mr Johnson had also faced fresh cross-party calls for Mr Cummings to go in light of the police statement.
More than 30 Tory MPs have called for Mr Cummings’ departure, while senior minister Penny Mordaunt admitted there were “inconsistencies” in his account and that “there is no doubt he took risks”.
On Tuesday, Douglas Ross, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for Scotland, quit the Government, saying he could not “in good faith” defend Mr Cummings’ actions.