Scotland's Chief Medical Officer Resigns After Flouting 'Stay At Home' Guidance

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Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, has resigned after being criticised for not adhering to social distancing advice by visiting her second home.

This comes after Calderwood was cut from media briefings on coronavirus after it was revealed she ignored her own advice to stay home.

Calderwood apologised “unreservedly” after she was given a warning by Police Scotland for breaching the official “stay at home” guidance said to be “vital” in curbing the spread of the disease.

However after further conversations with First minister Nicola Sturgeon, Calderwood said on Sunday night that she had resigned “with a heavy heart”, agreeing the “justifiable focus on my behaviour risks becoming a distraction from the hugely important job”.

Calderwood has faced fierce criticism for twice visiting her second home.  (Photo: PA)
Calderwood has faced fierce criticism for twice visiting her second home.  (Photo: PA)

In a statement, she added: “The most important thing to me now and over the next few very difficult months is that people across Scotland know what they need to do to reduce the spread of this virus, and that means they must have complete trust in those who give them advice.”

Adverts featuring Calderwood warning the public to “stay at home” will also be amended, first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

Photos of Calderwood, whose main residence is in Edinburgh, near a coastal retreat in Earlsferry were published in The Scottish Sun late on Saturday. The Scottish government confirmed the visit was an overnight stay to “check on a family home”.

At a press conference in Edinburgh on Saturday, Calderwood had admitted she had visited the coastal property with husband not once, but twice.

Sturgeon had said she will remain in the post and continue advising the Scottish government.

Adverts featuring Calderwood warning the public to “stay at home” will also be amended, first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.  (Photo: Pool via Getty Images)
Adverts featuring Calderwood warning the public to “stay at home” will also be amended, first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.  (Photo: Pool via Getty Images)

There were repeated calls for the CMO to resign on Sunday after evidence of the trips emerged.

In a statement after Sunday’s briefing, Sturgeon said Calderwood had made a “mistake” and insisted the CMO’s expertise was needed during the crisis.

She said: “I am acutely aware of the importance of public trust in the advice the government is giving to stay at home in order to save lives and protect our NHS.

“To maintain that trust we will be revising our public information campaign and the chief medical officer will be withdrawing from media briefings for the foreseeable future.

“She will continue to provide the Scottish government with the scientific and medical advice on the spread of coronavirus.”

When asked about whether Calderwood should continue, health secretary Matt Hancock said at a briefing in Downing Street: “This is a matter for the Scottish government.

“They, I know, are addressing the questions that have been asked in Scotland.

“These rules are there for everyone.

“We couldn’t be clearer that the social distancing rules are there for everyone to follow.

“I understand that the Scottish CMO has apologised. As far as I see it that is a matter for the Scottish government to address.”

England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries was asked if she had a second home, and whether she had visited it if so, but Hancock did not give her a chance to answer as he cut the briefing off immediately after these words.

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