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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief aide Dominic Cummings has defended his actions during his first public appearance since a major row erupted over reports that he “broke” the country’s COVID-19 lockdown rules.

During a press conference in the rose garden of the Downing Street, Cummings, the former Vote Leave chief who was the architect of Johnson’s Brexit strategy, on Monday told reporters that he had behaved “reasonably”, reports Xinhua news agency.

The row has dominated newspaper headlines in the UK since it was revealed on May 22 that Cummings, together with his wife and their four-year-old son, drove about 418 km from London to his parents’ home in northeast city of Durham.

A number of MPs from Johnson’s ruling Conservative party stepped up calls Monday for Cummings to resign or be fired as he “flouted the rules of staying at home” repeatedly stressed by the government at the time.

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Johnson has stood by Cummings, saying he has acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”.

During the press conference, Cummings explained that he made the car journey when his wife developed COVID-19 symptoms.

Cummings was worried that if he also became ill, which he subsequently did, there would be problems looking after their young son, so he headed to Durham to isolate there for 14 days close to his family members.

“I don’t think it would be reasonable to ask some friend to come and expose themselves to a deadly disease when a 17-year-old niece has offered to do it for me,” he said.

The lockdown rules have always allowed exceptions in certain circumstances, said Cummings.

“It says that in some circumstances you won’t be able to follow the rules and it seems to me that I was in such an exceptional circumstance and I was trying to balance all these very complicated things.

Boris Johnson Nation Address by .
 Prime Minister Boris Johnson filming his address to the nation from N010 Downing Street during the Coronavirus. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

“I believe I made the right judgement,” he added.

He said there was understandably public anger about the circumstance, but a lot of that anger was based on reports in the media that have not been true.

“I don’t regret what I did.”

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