COVID-19 inquiry: Dominic Cummings set to give evidence amid Barnard Castle protest

The number of people who died from COVID-19 in the UK has been projected onto the walls of Barnard Castle - the evening before Dominic Cummings was set to give evidence to the official inquiry into the virus and how the UK government handled it.

A message saying "231,332 COVID deaths - is that clear enough to read?" on the notorious fortification was organised by campaign group 38 Degrees and COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK.

Mr Cummings, who famously claimed he drove to the castle to test his eyesight while the UK was still under restrictions, is due before Baroness Hallett's probe later.

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It is not certain when he will be called to give evidence, after Monday's witnesses overran.

Martin Reynolds - now known as party Marty for his role in the partygate affair - spent hours going over how the government responded to the pandemic.

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He was a senior civil servant under Boris Johnson.

While the inquiry cross-examined him, messages came out which showed current Civil Service head Simon Case saying that Mr Johnson was unfit to lead due to his constant changing of direction.

Mr Case also claimed that government "isn't actually that hard, but this guy is making it impossible".

He is set to give evidence himself at some point, and is currently on medical leave from his role in Number 10.

Mr Reynolds - who invited Downing Street staff to a "bring your own booze" party - was supposed to only spend part of the Monday morning evidence session before the inquiry, but he ended up being required until after lunch.

As such, former Downing Street communications director Lee Cain was told he would not be heard from on Monday and instead will speak on Tuesday morning.

Mr Cummings is expected to appear on Tuesday afternoon.

Having worked for Mr Johnson in Downing Street during the pandemic, the preceding election and during the Brexit deadlock, Mr Cummings has since become one of the former prime minister's harshest critics.

Messages released on Monday show him referring to Mr Johnson as a "trolley" because his tendency to constantly change direction.

Both Mr Cummings and Mr Cain had left Downing Street by the end of 2020, with Mr Cummings claiming that Mr Johnson's wife had too much power.

Former chancellor George Osborne warned last week that "disgusting and misogynistic" messages from the pandemic were likely to come out this week.