The Bishop of Truro is among a number of church leaders nationally who have publicly condemned the defence of actions taken by government advisor Dominic Cummings.

The Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, who became a bishop in November 2018 and was officially welcomed to the Truro diocese in January last year, taking over from Bishop Tim Thornton, spoke out on Twitter yesterday evening.

It followed Prime Minister Boris Johnson publicly defending Mr Cummings over his decision to drive 250 miles from his home in London to be near relatives in Durham, during the height of the lockdown restrictions and while his wife had already developed coronavirus symptoms.

Yesterday, after Mr Johnson spoke on TV to say his advisor "acted responsibly, legally and with integrity", Bishop Philip wrote: "In this country, government and the rule of law depend largely and rightly on the principle of consent.

"But that depends in turn on the consistency, integrity and impartiality of govt and the application of the law.

"That is now hugely strained. A moment of real and serious concern."

Falmouth Packet:

The Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen is the 16th bishop of Truro

Mr Cummings has defended his actions, saying he had done the "right thing" in travelling with his wife and young son to seek childcare support, fearing they would both become incapacitated by the virus.

On March 30, Number 10 put out a statement saying that Mr Cummings was self-isolating at home with coronavirus symptoms, but Durham Police have subsequently issued a statement confirming that on March 31 they were "made aware of reports that an individual had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city".

They went on to say: "At the request of Mr Cummings’ father, an officer made contact the following morning by telephone.

“During that conversation, Mr Cummings’ father confirmed that his son had travelled with his family from London to the North-East and was self-isolating in part of the property.

“Durham Constabulary deemed that no further action was required. However, the officer did provide advice in relation to security issues.”

A moment of real and serious concern.

Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen

The Office of Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner has this morning put out a further statement, in which acting commissioner Steve White said he believed Durham police had "responded proportionately and appropriately to the issues raised."

He added: "It is clear however that there is a plethora of additional information circulating in the public domain which deserves appropriate examination. I have today written to the Chief Constable, asking her to establish the facts concerning any potential breach of the law or regulations in this matter at any juncture.

"It is vital that the force can show it has the interests of the people of County Durham and Darlington at its heart, so that the model of policing by consent, independent of government but answerable to the law, is maintained.”

A huge public outcry has followed the revelations, with a number of MPs - including Conservative Party politicians - calling for Mr Cummings's resignation.

However, in yesterday evening's public briefing the Prime Minister said Mr Cummings had "no alternative" and had "followed the instincts of every father and every parent."

Other bishops to have spoken out include the Bishop of Leeds Nick Baines, who wrote: "The question now is: do we accept being lied to, patronised and treated by a PM as mugs? The moral question is not for Cummings – it is for PM and ministers/MPs who find this behaviour acceptable. What are we to teach our children? (I ask as a responsible father.)" while the Bishop of Willesden Pete Broadbent simply said: "Johnson has now gone the full Trump."