THE Bishop of Worcester has condemned Dominic Cummings for not making the same sacrifices as other families during the coronavirus pandemic, calling his actions an 'insult'.

Bishop John Inge took the unusual step of wading into the political debate about the Prime Minister's chief adviser travelling to County Durham with his family, describing the issue as 'a matter of life and death'.

In making the comments he joined a chorus of people in Worcester, including former West Mercia Chief Constable Paul West and a city mum battling cancer, who have publicly criticised the Prime Minister's chief adviser - and Boris Johnson for backing him.

However, Mr Cummings said at a press conference at Downing Street today he had no intention of resigning after he travelled 260 miles with his family in March to be near relatives at a family farm in the North East when his wife became ill and he feared he could be struck down with Covid-19.

He made the journey to self-isolate with his family - apparently because he feared that he and his wife would be left unable to care for their son - while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys.

The aide said in retrospect he should have made the statement earlier and accepted that 'many are angry about what they have seen in the media about my actions''

He said he had not spoken to the Prime Minister about his family's decision to travel to Durham.

He said: "I thought the best thing to do in the circumstances was to drive to an isolated cottage on my father's farm."

Mr Cummings said his son had spent a night in hospital while he said of his own health: "I could barely stand." He denied any return journey to Durham after he drove back to London on April 13.

"I think there is understandable anger but a lot of that anger is based on reports in the media that have not been true," he said.

He added: "I can understand that some people will argue that I should have stayed at my home in London throughout. I understand these views. I know the intense hardship and sacrifice that the entire country has had to go through. However, I respectfully disagree. The legal rules inevitably do not cover all circumstances including those that I found myself in."

He told the nation: "I don't regret what I did. I think what I did was reasonable in these circumstances." Covid-19 has so far seen more than 45,000 people in the UK die after contracting it.

Boris Johnson insists his aide acted legally and within guidelines - but critics say the government's lockdown message has been undermined.

John Inge, the Bishop of Worcester, wrote on Twitter before the press conference: "The PM tells us that Cummings ‘followed the instincts of every father’ and that he ‘does not mark him down for that’.

"The point is that thousands and thousands of parents, including me, have not been able to follow their instincts because they felt they had to obey the rules.

"The PM’s risible defence of Cummings is an insult to all those who have made such sacrifices to ensure the safety of others."

Speaking to the Worcester News today he said: “I don’t normally comment on politics, certainly not on party politics, but this matter is not party political. Great concern has been expressed across the spectrum.

“This is actually a matter life and death. If senior Government officials do not appear to follow their own instructions then we shall all be at greater risk.

"Trust will be eroded and people will not feel inclined to follow Government instructions at all. That will mean more deaths from this horrible virus.”

Paul West, former chief constable at West Mercia Police, wrote: "Speaking as someone who, in the past, has taken young children back to beautiful Durham City to see their grandparents, I can assure Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock that driving up there is not something that one does by 'instinct' - it takes a good deal of planning."

Jo Martyr, a mum from St John's in Worcester has already contacted Worcester MP Robin Walker criticising Mr Cummings.

Mrs Martyr wrote: "Last week I received a cancer diagnosis. I have a six-year-old who will need care and emotional protection (from what will unfold) - there’s just my husband and I. Who will we turn to? Do we think of ourselves or do we carry on trying to follow ‘the rules’?

"Mr Johnson tells us it’s all about ‘parental instinct’ now. So shall I now risk carrying Covid-19 out of Worcestershire Royal Hospital and on to my aged parents - after my daily radiation treatments?

"We sought to protect out parents and their rural communities by not visiting them. Now what?! I’d dearly love to see my son playing on the beach at Nanny’s house. But I won’t, because I understand that my actions impact on others. Cummings and Johnson have shown that they believe themselves to be above such things. I genuinely hope that you are made of better stuff."

Worcester MP Robin Walker said he completely understood why people in the city were angry and upset and why people had been worried about the situation.

He added: "He has made it clear that he doesn't believe he is above the rules. In those circumstances I think he set out a reasonable explanation. It's a very extraordinary set of affairs he was in where both he and his wife were very concerned about having the virus. Clearly if he had been able to have childcare closer to him that would have been much better."

He said it was unfortunate the story about Mr Cummings had run so long 'before he was able to set out the facts'.

Speaking before the press conference Harriett Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire, said: “I want to thank everyone who has stayed at home during this difficult period of lockdown as we work together to slow the spread of this terrible virus.

“During the last two months I have been contacted by many constituents who have been struggling in very many different ways, and occasionally I have advised them that given their exceptional circumstances, and if their GP agreed, they should travel to another location because of a specific vulnerability.

“I have never met or communicated with Dominic Cummings and know nothing of his family circumstances, nor do I have confidence that all of the facts are in the public domain. I cannot say if I would have given the same exceptional advice to him if he had been a constituent who had contacted me asking for an interpretation of the guidance at the time.

“However, in the case of members of the Government, including the Prime Minister’s adviser, I think there is a higher bar because the Government relies on moral authority to receive the consent of the people to such draconian reductions in their freedoms.

“This was the basis of my internal communications to the powers that be over the weekend. I have also made sure that the strength of feeling I can observe in my mail box has been passed on.”