People pretending to be Dominic Cummings have flooded Barnard Castle’s TripAdvisor page with spoof reviews after the senior Downing Street aide confirmed he had travelled to the market town during lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s adviser gave an unprecedented news conference on Monday following reports he had travelled from London to Durham with his wife and young child, despite government advice to “stay at home“.
Reviews have since been posted on the beauty spot’s TripAdvisor page in droves, with one saying: “Whizzed up on a whim from London with the family. Was exhilarating to feel the wind in my scalp.
“My wife fancied a cream tea and a packet of locketts but for some reason the cafe had been closed down.
Another reviewer, who identified themselves as “Dom C”, praised the “great childcare facilities”.
One said Barnard Castle was a “mere 5 hour drive from Islington (where Mr Cummings lives) and well worth a visit, especially when one feels the need to get away from it all”.
The reviewer continued: “Upon arrival, the quiet in those ancient streets was broken only by the hack of my cough; droplets of my spittle drifting on the wind providing the nearest thing we saw to rain in the entire 10 to 14 days spent in the glorious North East.”
Another described their visit to the market town as “a chance to really let my hair down and get away from work”.
“Lots of fresh air, even with my persistent cough,” they said.
One reviewer said they had left London “to escape the crowds” and would “do it again in a heartbeat” – but “the rest of you should stay at home though”.
The spoof write-ups are reminiscent of those that appeared on the TripAdvisor page for Pizza Express in Woking following Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview over his relationship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
He told the BBC programme that an allegation he had sex with an underage teenage girl could not have been true because he was at the restaurant for a children’s birthday party on the night it was said to have happened.
The Barnard Castle page that has been hit is for the town’s ruined castle of the same name, and Mr Cummings is believed to have been walking with his family along the River Tees nearby.
Mr Cummings said on Monday he had gone on a “test drive” to the market town, half an hour from where he had been staying in Durham.
He said he had been spotted by a passer-by, but that he and his family had followed social distancing measures.
“I don’t regret what I did,” he insisted, saying his journey from London to seek childcare constituted “exceptional circumstances”.
“I was trying to balance all of these very complicated things.”