JK Rowling has labelled the reported lockdown rule-flouting by Boris Johnson's chief aide, Dominic Cummings, as "selfishness" and "indefensible hypocrisy" as several politicians call for his resignation.
Cummings, who was appointed as the senior adviser to the UK Prime Minister in July last year, is under fire for reportedly taking several trips from London to Durham throughout the country's strict COVID-19 lockdown. His travel is considered by many as a direct breach of the stringent measures that were in place to quell the spread of the virus, which has found a firm and deadly foothold in the UK.
During a controversial press briefing this weekend, Johnson insisted that Cummings' actions were justified, calling the trips "reasonable and legal". In March, the senior adviser travelled more than 400 kilometres from his London residence with his wife, who was displaying symptoms of COVID-19, and his four-year-old son. He says the trip to his parents' Durham estate was for the sole purpose of childcare, as he believed he would also fall ill with the virus.
However, local newspapers have since claimed Cummings made more than one trip after he was allegedly spotted near Durham a second time in April.
Now, Harry Potter author JK Rowling has chipped in her two cents on the matter, responding to a tweet by the chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak, who argued: "Taking care of your wife and young child is justifiable and reasonable, trying to score political points over it isn't."
"People have missed funerals of loved ones because of lockdown," Rowling wrote.
"Many have had to look after their own young children while ill. One of the architects of the rules keeping those people housebound drove across the UK, knowing he had the virus. Indefensible hypocrisy and selfishness."
MP Oliver Dowden took to Twitter to defend Cummings, writing: "Dom Cummings followed the guidelines and looked after his family. End of story."
Posting a screengrab of the tweet, Rowling shot back: "I know ending stories and this ain't it, chief".
A statement issued by Downing Street argues Cummings' travel was "essential".
"Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for," said the statement.
"His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed. His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside."
Following the press conference, in which Johnson vehemently denied any wrongdoing by Cummings, a rogue tweet was shared by the official account of the UK civil service. The suspiciously-timed post referred to unnamed individuals as "truth twisters", lambasting unspecified behaviour as "arrogant and offensive".
Due to the timing of the tweet, the Twittersphere suspected it was referencing the Cummings' scandal and Johnson's protection of the reported rule-flouter. It was shared tens of thousands of times before it was removed from the civil service account.