‘Offensive to every family’: Mum whose coronavirus-infected son died of leukaemia criticises PM for defending Dominic Cummings

Louise Bennett, whose son Fred died of leukaemia during the coronavirus lockdown, has criticised the government for backing Dominic Cummings. (Louise Bennett)

A mum whose son died of leukaemia during the coronavirus lockdown has criticised the government for defending Dominic Cummings’s breach of restrictions.

Louise Bennett said the treatment of Cummings’s decision to drive to his parents’ house in Durham as a special case was “offensive to every family” who had to make difficult decisions during lockdown.

Mrs Bennett, whose 14-year-old son Fred died on 3 May in hospital while receiving treatment for leukaemia, said the Cummings family had “countless others options” and that his defence that he was anxious for his child’s welfare did not “cut it”.

Boris Johnson’s top adviser is facing calls to resign after it emerged that he had breached lockdown restrictions by driving 260 miles from London to Durham, sparking widespread anger.

In a letter to her local Conservative MP Jeremy Wright, Mrs Bennett, from Rugby, Warwickshire, told how Fred had died on 3 May after receiving hospital treatment for leukaemia since February at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

During his time in hospital Fred contracted coronavirus, she said, meaning he and both of his parents were moved to an isolation room in hospital with no visitors allowed.

“This meant that Fred, my husband and myself spent 10 days in an en suite hospital room without being able to leave, even into the corridor,” she wrote.

“From late March, even when not in isolation, Fred was allowed to receive no visitors other than the two of us.

“When we moved to GOSH, and were told his condition was life threatening, we had to make the difficult decision of finding childcare for our 11-year-old, who was not allowed in the hospital.

Louise Bennett's son Fred, 14, died of leukaemia on 3 May after spending several months in hospital receiving treatment. (Louise Bennett)

“We agonised over this, knowing that breaking the lockdown was potentially putting other family members at risk.

“We spoke at length to our medical teams, and infection control to establish what was and was not acceptable and whether our situation was considered exceptional enough. This now seems laughable.”

Mrs Bennett went on to write that due to lockdown restrictions, only 10 people were allowed at Fred’s funeral on 14 May.

She said while the easing of restrictions meant his school friends could stand along the route his hearse travelled, the isolation the whole family had felt – particularly Fred’s brother – had been “immeasurable”.

“Therefore you can understand my dismay at the revelations about Dominic Cummings over the weekend, and the extraordinary lengths the Government has gone to to defend his actions,” she said.

“The guidance was crystal clear. If you or a member of your family have symptoms of coronavirus you must not leave the house for any reason.”

Louise Bennett said Dominic Cummings's claim that he had breached lockdown restrictions because he was anxious for his child did not 'cut it'. (Louise Bennett)

She added: “The defence that he was anxious for the welfare of his child does not cut it with me.

“His wife was only mildly ill, he was showing no symptoms, these were not extraordinary circumstances.

“Quite frankly it is offensive to every family who has had to make incredibly difficult decisions and made extraordinary sacrifices in this lockdown, that this counts as a special case.

“I can list countless other options the Cummings family had. How many parents have had coronavirus whilst living with a child in the house?

“Is the government now saying that all of them would have been free to have travelled around the country finding a more convenient place to stay whilst they were at their most contagious?”

She urged Wright to pass on her experience to Boris Johnson and “every cabinet minister who has publicly defended” Cummings's actions, adding: “I would also like your assurance that the safety of the public, and the importance of controlling the virus is more important that one man’s job.”

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