Dominic Cummings' lockdown trip to Durham and Barnard Castle damaged public trust in the UK Government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new study.

Analysis conducted by University College London (UCL) found the Prime Minister's chief adviser's trip reduced people's willingness to follow social distancing rules.

The research analysed 220,000 survey results from 40,000 participants in UCL's Covid-19 social study between April 24 and June 11.

Respondents were asked how much confidence they had in the Government’s handling of the pandemic on a scale of one (none) to seven (a lot).

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Among participants living in England, confidence dropped approximately 0.4 points on this scale between May 21 and 25, with Cummings' 260-mile trip reported on May 22.

The researchers assessed the impact of his actions by comparing the levels of confidence those living in Scotland and Wales said they had in their devolved governments.

There was no comparable drop in confidence in the leaders of Scotland and Wales over this time period.

The researchers found those living in England had not regained their confidence in the UK Government, with the gap between those in England and the devolved nations continuing to widen.

HeraldScotland:

It revealed that adherence to lockdown, which was already starting to decline, dropped more rapidly in the following weeks, particularly in England.

Lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt, of UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care said: “Public trust in the Government’s ability to manage the pandemic is crucial as it underpins public attitudes and behaviours at a precarious time for public health.”

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She added: “Trust in government decisions and actions relating to the management of Covid-19 is a major challenge globally and these data illustrate the negative and lasting consequences that political decisions can have for public trust and the risks to behaviours.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Boris Johnson’s failure to confront Dominic Cummings over his lockdown breach was a monumental misjudgement.

“The Government rightly asked the British people to make huge sacrifices to drive down infection rates.

“So, to have allowed his most senior adviser to blatantly break the rules undermined vital life-saving public health messaging at the peak of this deadly pandemic.”