Why Barnard Castle 672

UPDATED Dominic Cummings specifically stated now in the press briefing that he had been eager to “get back to work to get vaccine deals through, move regulations aside” and that is why he drove to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight.

Now it may be entirely a coincidence that the place to which he chose to drive for his eyesight test happened to be the site of the major factory of GlaxoSmithKline. It may be an entire coincidence that two days later, on the very day Cummings actually started work back in Downing Street he has stated was “to get vaccine deals through”, GlaxoSmithKline announced an agreement to develop the vaccine.

It is however plainly not crazy to ask the question. This astonishing Twitter pile-on against Clive Lewis for retweeting my piece says something very worrying, when you consider that the large majority of those piling in are supposedly part of the “opposition” and include many journalists. A society where it is viewed as a sign of madness to look into the prospect of corruption involving a company as massively, provenly corrupt as GlaxoSmithKline and a figure as shady as Cummings, is a very unhealthy society indeed.

One red flag to me is the number of trolls claiming GlaxoSmithKline only has a small and remote office in Barnard Castle. This is not the entire site, and in a further £96 million investment two new blocks are in construction or recently finished:

So to return to my original posting:

In 2012 GlaxoSmithKline were fined $3 billion for fraud, overcharging and making false claims about medicines in the USA. In 2016, GlaxoSmithKline were fined £37.6 million in the UK for bribing companies not to produce generic copies of their out of patent drugs, thus overcharging the NHS.

Despite the fines, these frauds were still massively profitable for GlaxoSmithKline. A perfunctory search on the company brings up similar frauds and fines it perpetrated in South Africa and India. All this within the last decade. I cannot find any information that anyone was jailed, or even sacked, for these criminal activities. It is absolutely astonishing that such an habitually criminal enterprise carries on serenely in the UK. And what is particularly interesting today is that it carries on its crooked activity from its massive manufacturing and research base in Barnard Castle, County Durham.

On 12 April Dominic Cummings was seen in Castle Barnard during lockdown. Two days later, GlaxoSmithKline of Barnard Castle signed an agreement to develop and manufacture a Covid-19 vaccine with Sanofi of France.

Of course, that could be coincidence. As a child I lived in nearby Peterlee and I know families may go to Barnard Castle just for relaxation. Even when that is illegal. But GlaxoSmithKline Barnard Castle has been working 24/7 during the coronavirus crisis including the weekends. It was working.

The government’s extraordinary refusal to confirm or deny Cummings visit to Barnard Castle appears to make little sense if he just went there for a walk.

But surely if he was discussing Covid-19 vaccine business on behalf of the government, that would answer all the critics of his trip, would it not? They would want to trumpet it from the hills? I mean to believe otherwise, you would have to propound a crazed conspiracy theory. You would have to believe that criminal activity may be occurring again involving GlaxoSmithKline of the kind which might lead to fines of 37.6 million pounds for overcharging the NHS, or of three billion dollars for fraudulent medical claims in the USA. Nobody sane believes that kind of thing, do they?

UPDATED: I should never be surprised by the puerile nature of debate on the internet, but I frequently am. There appears to be organised pushback stating that this article is only speculation. Of course it is. It states a number of facts not generally known, and wonders if there is a connection. It does not claim to have proof Cummings visited GSK, let alone of what he did when there. But both GSK and Cummings are known bad actors.

The even sillier argument is that Barnard Castle is the research and manufacturing centre and not the corporate HQ and therefore no deal could have been done there. Because when a company is involved in a massive criminal conspiracy, as GSK undeniably was in the multi-billion fraud in the USA or its price-fixing to the NHS, such criminal actions obviously can only be arranged in the main London company boardroom during normal working hours with lots of people around and the maximum chance of inconvenient people finding out what is happening? That is a stupid argument.

Equally, those who claim I have uncovered a criminal conspiracy are wrong. I have not. All I have done is put together some circumstances around Cummings denied trip to Barnard Castle, that could potentially provide a more reasonable explanation for why he would take the risk of going there, and why the government would stake all politically on denying it, than a day trip for a walk for his wife’s birthday. I have not proven anything.

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672 thoughts on “Why Barnard Castle

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  • John

    This is an interesting line of speculation but one I find contradicted by the fact that he took his wife and child with him to Barnard Castle.
    Surely, if he wanted to hold a covert conversation with one or more GSK executives, he should have gone alone?
    Alternatively, why did he not just talk to the individual or individuals involved by telephone or through something like Zoom?
    I think the main point of criticism of Cummings is that he was stupid to do what he did in breach of lock-down guidance.
    I am not convinced that it was necessary for him to drive from London to Durham for child care purposes.
    I am sure he and his wife knew plenty of people in the London area who could have taken their child in for a few days.
    Additionally, they were wealthy enough to be able to hire-in short-term domestic staff to look after their child while they self-isolated.
    The truth is that Mr and Mrs Cummings hysterically panicked and rushed off to stay with members of his family in Durham.
    Cummings may be quite good at waging successful campaigns for the Tories but as a family man he is a complete failure.

  • Hove Actually

    This peculiar saga is reminiscent of cold war spying and particularly of ‘A Perfect Spy’, which described strategies employed by agents in the field meeting informants.

    Unless Cummings was really taking a 50+ mile excursion to test his eyesight, a little ‘tradecraft’ superficially seems to have been employed.

    When engaged in something a bit iffy, it would be prudent not to use any telephone or electronic communication whatsoever, but instead get up to your secret activity face to face, far away from electronic surveillance and security cameras.That’s where you receive compromising material, a USB drive or just an informal exchange of information.
    Many are those who came undone because they failed to heed that advice, as evidence of telephone calls made and received, emails sent and received, forwarded or stored on various servers, later emerged.

    A rendezvous in a remote country wood where one can stroll in comfort and discuss private matters in relative seclusion is ideal, especially at times where it is unlikely you will encounter or be disturbed by any unexpected person arriving on the scene.
    Of course the rendezvous has to be somewhere your source can reach quickly and easily without arousing suspicion.
    “How much time do you have?”, is the first question you should ask.

    With thanks (and apologies) to John LeCarre for inspiration. Maybe I have read too many of his books!

  • Raphael perry

    I had a call from a close friend that has confirmed this to be the case and the source was a politician

  • Mary

    Council bosses investigating whether Dominic Cumming’s Durham bolthole had planning permission
    Planning bosses are investigating whether the property Dominic Cummings stayed in during his controversial lockdown trip was built without planning permission.

    The governmental advisor stayed at North Lodge, near Durham, when he travelled to the area on March 27 with his four-year-old son and wife after she started suffering coronavirus symptoms.

    The building is understood to have been the site of a swimming pool and permission for the erection of a pitched roof structure over it was granted in 2001.


    If those are the facts, there should be a demolition order.

  • Tony

    It’s pretty obvious to any level headed person that something else was going on here. We still don’t fully know what. The explanations given by the gov and then by DC himself raised more questions than answers, which should be asked. These are our top people for heaven’s sake. Cummings is a intelligent man. What he did was for an important reason. But why all the contradictions. Reminds me of the Sailsbury poisoning. Throw in loads of contradictory information and lies to confuse everyone (there were loads of possible leads not followed up by the MSM). The trip to Barnard Castle was laughed off as a silly joke, the possible reasons why he chose to go there of all places was never really considered by the press. That the GSK factory was only a mile away SHOULD have been followed up. He had to be out of London at that time.Why? He had to be near GSK on that day. Why? It’s the job of journalists to investigate stuff like this. But as usual they have taken the easy way out and ignored it.

    Someone here said why didn’t he do the secret deal over the “telephone or zoom”, ha ha ha.

    By the way the current mass BLM protests make Cummings rule breaking trips seem a little irrelevant now!

    • Mary

      From your link.

      ‘Significantly, the contracts reveal that the Dominic Cummings-linked firm Faculty is being paid more than £1m to provide AI services for the NHS. The documents also show that terms of that deal were changed after initial demands for transparency were made by Foxglove under the Freedom of Information Act.

      The contracts show that companies involved in the NHS datastore project, including Faculty and Palantir, were originally granted intellectual property rights (including the creation of databases), and were allowed to train their models and profit off their unprecedented access to NHS data.

      Government lawyers have now claimed that a subsequent (undisclosed) amendment to the contract with Faculty has cured this problem, however they have not released the further contract. openDemocracy and Foxglove are demanding its immediate release. It is not clear if other contracts were altered as well.’

  • Mary

    Cummings is described as an eugenicist here – designer babies and all that.

    ‘Boris Johnson’s senior aide Dominic Cummings has been dragged further into the row over No 10’s decision to hire an adviser with eugenicist views after it emerged that he suggested in his own writings that the NHS should cover the cost of selecting babies to have higher IQs.

    In a blogpost covering his views on the future of “designer babies”, Cummings said he believed rich would-be parents would inevitably select embryos with “the highest prediction for IQ” and floated the idea that “a national health system should fund everybody to do this” to avoid an unfair advantage for the wealthy.’

    Dr Strangelove lives.

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