A Tory MP and close ally of Boris Johnson said he “forgot” to put a face covering on after a picture emerged on social media of him travelling on a train without wearing one.
Danny Kruger, who was the Prime Minister’s former political secretary before his election as Devizes MP at the general election, has apologised after being caught without a mask while on the hour-long train journey to London.
An eagle-eyed Twitter user posted a picture on September 19 of Mr Kruger sitting at a train table wearing earphones, with the caption: “Don’t blame it on the young people Boris (Johnson) when your own party aren’t even following your rules.”
Mr Kruger, David Cameron’s former speechwriter, said in a statement: “I boarded an almost empty carriage at Hungerford and quite simply forgot to put on my mask.
“When I got to Paddington I realised my mistake and covered up for the rest of my journey.
“If the person had reminded me rather than taking a photo and posting it on social media I would of course have put on my mask then and there.
“I do apologise for my mistake.”
On September 7, less than a fortnight before his own memory slip, Mr Kruger – a self-confessed “old friend” of Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s de facto chief of staff who travelled more than 250 miles to Co Durham during the lockdown in April – told his constituents in a Facebook message that they “MUST wear a face covering” unless exempt.
Great Western Railway, the train operator that runs the route between Hungerford and Paddington, warns passengers on its website that they face a £100 fine for failing to wear a face covering on its services.
Mr Kruger’s apology comes after the Prime Minister warned last week that the UK was now experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections and announced fines of up to £10,000 for people who test positive for the virus and refuse to self-isolate.
Mr Johnson is preparing to address MPs on Tuesday amid rumours that national lockdown measures banning socialising between two households could be put in place in a bid to arrest the virus’s spread.
But Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in health protection at the University of East Anglia, said on Monday that there were examples of “people in authority” who were not following the Government’s coronavirus-related restrictions.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve certainly seen a lot of confusion and a lot of mixed messages over the past few months and examples of people in authority who don’t feel that they need to follow the rules themselves.”