EFFIGIES of under-fire Government aide Dominic Cummings and business tycoon Sir Richard Branson have been hung from a Salford bridge.

The two figures were spotted dangling from a footbridge over the River Irwell in Lower Broughton this morning (May 27).

They were accompanied by a banner saying: MAKE THE RICH PAY FOR COVID-19.

It is not known who is behind the protest.

Mr Cummings, who is the Prime Minister's senior adviser, drove from London to Durham to isolate with his family during the lockdown and says he subsequently took a trip to Barnard Castle to see if he was fit enough to drive before returning to the capital.

Tory MPs and scientists advising ministers have warned that Mr Cummings' actions risk undermining respect for the restrictions which have helped curb the spread of a virus which has been linked to at least 47,300 deaths in the UK.

County Durham's three Conservative MPs issued a joint statement saying Mr Cummings had created a "major distraction", but stopped short of calling for him to go.

"Overall, we believe his actions to be motivated out of his desire as a parent to do what he thought was necessary in protecting his family," said the statement from Richard Holden, who represents North West Durham, Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison, whose constituency includes Barnard Castle, and Paul Howell, who represents Sedgefield.

"However, in the same circumstances, none of us would have made the decisions he made - particularly over the visit to Barnard Castle."

Sir Richard meanwhile has faced criticism after seeking some form of state bailout to rescue his airline business while planes remain grounded.

The plea for UK taxpayer help has prompted a backlash, with people pointing to Branson’s vast personal wealth as a potential source of rescue funding.