Former Secretary of State Karen Bradley has said she is "not convinced" by the account given by Boris Johnson's adviser Dominic Cummings over his alleged lockdown breaches.
The Staffordshire Moorlands MP said: "I would like to thank the many, many people who have written to me about Mr Cummings and his actions and I want to assure you that I have every sympathy with you and your views.
"Over the last few weeks the British people have been asked to make the most enormous personal sacrifices. We have all done everything asked of us because we were told that doing so would save lives."
She said she wanted to give Mr Cummings a chance to make his case before passing judgment and not rush to comment until hearing his account.
"Having done so, I am afraid that I am not convinced by his explanation," she added. "I can well understand that any parent wants to protect their child and have enormous sympathy with acting to do that.
"But so much of the account goes beyond that simple human instinct and suggests that there were breaches of the rules to avoid some of the hardships that many have endured."
Ms Bradley replaced James Brokenshire as Secretary of State from January 2018 until July last year when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. He praised her for her work here, although she was widely viewed as ineffective.
Dozens of Tory MPs have called for Mr Cummings to resign or be sacked. However, current Secretary of State Brandon Lewis has given the PM and his special adviser his support.
Ms Bradley said she shared her constituents' views on Mr Cummings at the "highest level", adding: "Mr Cummings is, in my view, causing significant damage to the work that the Government are doing to get us through the pandemic.
"I can reach no other conclusion than that for the sake of this country, Mr Cummings should do the right thing now and stop damaging the work that needs to be done."