Dominic Cummings has admitted that he did travel to self-isolate, but says the trip was due to “exceptional circumstances”.

The government special adviser spoke at the Downing Street rose garden to admit that his wife and young child travelled to Durham and went to Bernard Castle to test if he was well enough to drive home.

He said the decision was based not only on fears over a lack of childcare if he became incapacitated with Covid-19, but also concerns about his family's safety.

Mr Cummings said he had not asked the Prime Minister about his decision and admitted that "arguably this was a mistake".

He said: "I did not ask the Prime Minister about this decision. He was ill himself and he had huge problems to deal with. Every day I have to exercise my judgement about things like this and decide what to discuss with him.

"I thought that I would speak to him when the situation clarified over the coming days, including whether I had symptoms and whether there were tests available.

"Arguably this was a mistake and I understand that some will say that I should have spoken to the Prime Minister before deciding what to do."

Read more: Labour says Hertsmere MP is 'defending the indefensible' regarding Dominic Cummings

Mr Cummings said: “I don’t regret what I did. I think reasonable people may well disagree about how I thought about what to do in the circumstances, but I think what I did was actually reasonable in these circuimstances.

“The rules made clear that if you are dealing with small children that can be exceptional circumstances.

"And I think that the situation that I was in was exceptional circumstances and the way that I dealt with it was the least risk to everybody concerned if my wife and I had both been unable to look after our four-year-old."

Mr Cummings said that he drove up to Durham with his wife and son and did not stop on the way.

He said the next day he woke up in pain and "clearly had Covid symptoms".

He added: "So I drove the three of us up to Durham that night, arriving roughly midnight. I did not stop on the way.

"When I awoke the next morning, Saturday March 28, I was in pain and clearly had Covid symptoms including a headache and a serious fever.

"Clearly I could not return to work anytime soon. For a day or two we were both ill, I was in bed, my wife was ill but not ill enough to require emergency help."

Mr Cummings also said stories released by the media suggested he had opposed lockdown and "did not care about many deaths".

He said: "The truth is that I had argued for lockdown, I did not oppose it but these stories had created a very bad atmosphere around my home, I was subjected to threats of violence, people came to my house shouting threats, there were posts on social media encouraging attacks."

Mr Cummings said he was worried that "this situation would get worse" and "I was worried about the possibility of leaving my wife and child at home all day and often into the night while I worked in Number 10."

He said: "I thought the best thing to do in all the circumstances was to drive to an isolated cottage on my father's farm."

What have local MPs said?

When asked about Mr Cummings, Gagan Mohindra, the South West Hertfordshire MP, thanked his constituents for sticking to social distancing.

Mr Mohindra said: "Since the Government introduced guidelines on social distancing and self-isolation in mid-March, the residents of South West Hertfordshire have tried as best as they can to behave responsibly and I thank them for their efforts.

"Due to the unprecedented nature of the crisis, room was left for interpretation of the guidelines deliberately so that individual, unforeseen circumstances could be accounted for. I have been incredibly impressed with the sacrifices many people have made.

"Our rates of volunteering and the community spirit shown have also been inspirational. I would like to thank everyone again who has followed, and continues to follow, our government's advice." 

Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden tweeted: "Dom Cummings followed the guidelines and looked after his family. End of story."

Watford MP Dean Russell has been approached for his comments.