Scotland's chief medical officer resigns after breaching lockdown by visiting second home

·2-min read
Dr Calderwood apologised for visiting her second home on more than one occasion. Pic: The Scottish Sun / News Licensing
Dr Calderwood apologised for visiting her second home on more than one occasion. Pic: The Scottish Sun / News Licensing

Scotland's chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood has resigned after breaching the UK lockdown by visiting her second home.

Dr Calderwood - who has been a leading voice in urging the public to obey the lockdown - was photographed by The Scottish Sun visiting her holiday home on the east coast of the country over the weekend.

She has admitted it was the second time she had done so during the lockdown.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon defended Dr Calderwood during a Sunday news briefing, but subsequently confirmed the chief medic would not attend future conferences.

Following that decision, Dr Calderwood issued her resignation. In a statement, she said: "I am deeply sorry for my actions and the mistakes I have made.

"The first minister and I have had a further conversation this evening and we have agreed that the justifiable focus on my behaviour risks becoming a distraction from the hugely important job that government and the medical profession has to do in getting the country through this coronavirus pandemic."

Dr Calderwood added: "Having worked so hard on the government's response, that is the last thing I want."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon praised Dr Calderwood for providing advice to her and to the Scottish government over the past few weeks, and stressed that the advice was right: "People should continue to stay at home to protect the NHS and to save lives."

But Ms Sturgeon added: "It is, however, clear that the mistake she made - even though she has apologised sincerely and honourably for it - risks distracting from and undermining confidence in the government's public health message at this crucial time. That is not a risk either of us is willing to take."

Just a few days ago, Dr Calderwood tweeted out a photo of her family clapping at their Edinburgh residence in celebration of NHS staff working to stop the spread of the virus.

But on Sunday she was given a warning by Police Scotland about her conduct after her visits.

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In a statement issued on Twitter, the force said that Dr Catherine Calderwood accepted that she had gone against her own advice to the Scottish people.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: "Local officers visited Dr Catherine Calderwood and spoke to her about her actions, reiterated crucial advice and issued a warning about her future conduct, all of which she accepted.

"Individuals must not make personal exemptions bespoke to their own circumstances."

The Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats had all called for her to go.

"Dr Calderwood's position is very difficult, untenable even, given the damage this has caused public trust," Scottish Conservatives leader Jackson Carlaw said.

"The vast majority of Scots are complying with official advice to stay home and protect our NHS. There cannot be one rule for the bosses and another one for everyone else."