Michael Gove has defended Dominic Cummings's bizarre claim that he took a lengthy drive to test his eyesight, revealing that he has himself done the same "on occasion".
Asked by LBC's Nick Ferrari whether he would drive 60 miles to test his eyesight, Gove said:
I have, on occasions in the past, driven with my wife in order to make sure that... what's the right way of putting it?
I think that people who know me know that I'm not an authority on driving, and I'm not the best person in the world to ask detailed questions about driving. I'm not an authority on driving as someone who took seven attempts to pass their driving test.
Gove hasn't exactly convinced people that driving is a substitute for an eye test.
Gove also sought to defend Cummings when speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News.
When asked what the government advice is if you have Covid-19 and think you have a problem with your eyesight, Gove responded that "different people will take different steps" and to "seek medical advice".
Burley then asked him "so it's not to get in a car and drive half an hour with your four year old strapped in the back?". Gove replied:
As we know, Dominic, and I know you're alluding to Dominic, was given the all-clear by the medics.
He was told that it was safe for him to return to work. He wanted to make sure before he did return to work that he was in a good condition in order to be able to drive the long journey back down the A1. He took a short journey.
That short journey was one that was consistent with the medical advice, consistent with the medical guidance. When he arrived just outside Barnard Castle he went for a very short walk.
Gove then went on to describe Cummings's decision to "make sure he was comfortable" driving back to London as "wise".
"It was the case that it was part of the National Police Chiefs Council guidance that you could drive at that time in order to take exercise as well," Gove added.
The NPCC's guidelines were made public on 16 April. The guidelines state that "driving for a prologued period with only brief exercise" isn't allowed. However, these guidelines were aimed at people not experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
People who had symptoms and their families were supposed to self-isolate and "stay at home" where possible.
Elsewhere in the interview, Gove did concede that Cummings should have offered an explanation of his actions earlier "to avoid some of the confusion that has arisen", but defended him doing so in the Number 10 rose garden.
According to the SPADs' code of conduct, special advisors like Cummings should not "take public part in political controversy".
"It's perfectly possible to criticise Dominic for not saying more earlier, and it's perfectly possible to criticise Dominic for having that press conference at Number 10 Downing Street, but what it's not possible to do is hold both views simultaneously," Gove said.
Gove also appeared on BBC Radio 4, where he said Cummings took his trip to Barnard Castle because "he was preparing to return to work".
On BBC Breakfast, Gove said in the space of a single sentence that Cummings took the journey precisely "because his eyesight was good enough" and that it was "to determine that he could drive safely".
So Cummings drove to Barnard Castle to exercise, because he was given the all clear to return to work, and to test his eyesight.