Almost 500 complaints were made to Durham Constabulary over the Dominic Cummings scandal, ChronicleLive can exclusively reveal.
The findings come after it emerged that the force gave the PM's former top advisor early access to the media statement which revealed he may have flouted his own Government's lockdown rules.
The release, which stated his now infamous trip to Barnard Castle had possibly been a "minor" breach of Covid-19 regulations, was sent to Mr Cummings an hour before being made public.
Now ChronicleLive can exclusively reveal that the force - which already has a taxpayer-funded legal department - sought private legal help to advise Chief Constable Jo Farrell in relation to drafting that statement.
They are among the revelations to emerge from a series of Freedom of Information requests to the force, which help paint a picture of what unfolded behind the scenes during the spring scandal.
Durham Constabulary said the statement was sent to Mr Cummings in advance as a "courtesy". However, a Durham MP feels that the disclosures will only reinforce some people's feelings that there is "one rule for the Government and its friends, and another for the rest of us".
"Although Mr Cummings is no longer in post, the anger that people feel about his actions has not subsided, and the suggestion that the Government had advance sight of the police statement on his actions will do little to assuage this," said Labour's Mary Foy.
"It would be helpful in ensuring continued trust in the Government and the police if the reason for the Government having advance sight of this statement could be clarified, along with the decision to use an external legal team to check this statement."
ChronicleLive asked the force why outside legal help was sought, and if there was a cost to the taxpayer. The force declined to answer immediately, instead stating it would need another Freedom of Information request.
Public data, published routinely on the force's website, reveals that in May - when the statement was released - Durham Constabulary spent at least £12,365 on external legal fees. The total sum could be even greater as only amounts exceeding £500 are listed.
While some of the firms the force spent money with are listed, the names of almost half of those used that month are redacted.
We also asked the force if there had been any pressure from Downing Street to see the release ahead of publication, or if others accused of an offence had previously received the same "courtesy" of seeing a press release about them prior to publication.
The force didn't address the second point but in a short statement added: "This was one-way traffic and was done purely out of courtesy.”
The saga unfolded after it emerged Mr Cummings drove 260 miles from London to his parents' farm in Durham in March to self-isolate, despite Government-imposed travel restrictions.
In that subsequent press statement given to Mr Cummings in advance, the force said it would take no further action against him.
The 391-word statement confirmed that if there had been a breach, it was so minor it would - at most - warrant a few words of advice.
However, the scandal sparked widespread public fury and has been described as a moment when public support for lockdown measures in Britain started to wane.
A separate Freedom of Information request has shown the scale of the public's anger over the saga.
The request revealed there have been at least 474 formal complaints made by the public to Durham Constabulary, although that figure may be even higher as the number only goes up to June.
ChronicleLive did seek a more up-to-date figure but again, the force directed us to the Freedom of Information route.
"There is no doubt that the Prime Minister has expended an enormous amount of political capital on protecting an unelected advisor, but the real damage has been done in how, by visiting Durham at the height of the first Covid-19 lockdown, Dominic Cummings completely undermined vital public health messaging," added Durham City MP Mary Foy.
She said that damage was further compounded by the subsequent revelation that unauthorised development had taken place at his property in Durham, and that outstanding council tax in the region of £50,000 was not to be collected by the Valuation Office Agency.
"This simply reinforced the idea that it was one rule for them, and another for the rest of us," she added.
"Not only were these stories hugely damaging for the Government, but what was the benefit?
"The Prime Minister had a few more months of work from a compromised advisor, who then left on his own terms over an office spat. Throughout this whole saga, the Prime Minister, and the Government, have looked weak and self-serving.
"While it is right that Mr Cummings himself should be discarded as yesterday’s news, we should not forget the damage caused."
Last month, Mr Cummings left his Downing Street role amid more inner-turmoil involving the departure of another key aide, Director of Communications Lee Cain.
He was photographed walking out of Number 10 clutching a box of possessions.