Robert Peston suffers awkward blunder during Boris Johnson briefing ‘Couldn’t hide dismay’

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Robert Peston, 60, was one of the journalists asking Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 55, questions during today’s coronavirus daily update. The latter was put under the spotlight to explain his opinion on the matter gripping the nation, being his chief aide Dominic Cummings, 48, seeming to breach lockdown rules back in April. However, as the ITV political reporter’s time with the politician came to an end, an unfortunate blunder meant he was still on the screen and BBC viewers saw his clear reaction to the Prime Minister’s answer.

Mr Cummings was the topic of conversation during today’s briefing, with Mr Johnson defending his colleague’s actions at the beginning of the update.

With the former spotted travelling between London and Durham in the midst of the lockdown period to seek childcare from his family for his son after his wife displayed symptoms of Covid-19, the Prime Minister said his chief aide had acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity.”

As has been routine since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, journalists were then given the chance to put questions to the senior minister giving the update.

What isn’t usually seen, however, is the reporter’s reaction to the answer to their questions but BBC viewers saw Peston’s in full this evening.


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Given the floor, Peston grilled the Prime Minister over the fact there had been calls for Mr Cummings to resign as he didn’t follow the UK Government guidelines.

The political journalist addressed how Mr Johnson’s chief aide seemed to have breached not one, but three of the lockdown rules.

These included leaving the house where someone who lives there has Covid-19 symptoms, spending hours in the same vicinity as someone who could be infected and travelling to a second home.

Just as he had started the briefing, the Prime Minister defended his colleague’s actions and as he went on to speak with another reporter, it was clear the ITV journalist was unimpressed with the answer.

Even Robert Peston couldn’t hide his dismay

BBC viewer

As Mr Johnson said aloud who he was speaking with next, the screen changed from Peston to another reporter, before the political journalist was brought back.

It seems he didn’t realise he was still on camera as he was seen slumping back in his chair and making a big sigh.

Whoever was controlling the systems seemed to notice the blunder and worked quickly to change the screens again.

However, it was too little too late as those watching at home had already taken to Twitter to comment on the moment.

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One viewer posted on the social media platform: “Lovely accidental cut back to Peston there.”

Another added on the micro-blogging site: “Even Robert Peston couldn’t hide his dismay of Boris Johnson’s spineless defence of Dominic Cummings. Exasperated as he went off camera. #DailyBriefings.”

Whilst a third commented: “Loved the sigh when you thought you were off air. Told me all I needed to know thanks Peston. Hold them to account.”

Writing his analysis of the Prime Minister’s briefing on the ITV website, Peston said Mr Johnson had become a “human shield” for his chief aide.


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The political journalist added Mr Johnson’s take on the matter was “risky” and stated Labour won’t be backing down in holding Mr Cummings to account.

“The Cummings defence may well enter the lexicon of reasons why someone is not distancing in the way the government and its scientific advisers would hope and expect,” he continued.

Also in this evening’s daily briefing, the Prime Minister explained he is pushing ahead with reopening schools from June 1.

An update on the number of fatalities over the past 24 hours was also given, with 118 people having died due to complications from coronavirus.

Coronavirus Daily Update: BBC News Special airs weekdays at 5pm on BBC One.

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