Scots’ medical chief resigns after flouting own coronavirus rules

FILE PHOTO: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman (not pictured), deliver an update on coronavirus following a COBRA meeting, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain, March 12, 2020. Jeff J Mitchell/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood resigned on Sunday after she broke her own advice to stay at home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus by visiting her second home this weekend and last.

Calderwood said that during discussions with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Sunday evening they agreed her actions risked distracting from the “hugely important job that government and the medical profession has to do in getting the country through this coronavirus pandemic”.

“It is with a heavy heart that I resign as chief medical officer,” she said.

Police had earlier issued a warning to Calderwood about her behaviour and Sturgeon had removed her as the public face of the campaign to tackle the coronavirus.

Photographs of Calderwood visiting her holiday home in Earlsferry, on Scotland’s east coast about an hour’s drive from the capital Edinburgh, were published in the Scottish Sun.

Calderwood had apologised earlier on Sunday when she appeared next to Sturgeon at a news briefing that was supposed to update the country on the response to the pandemic, but was instead dominated by her actions.

“I did not follow the advice I’m giving to others, I’m truly sorry for that,” she said.

She said she had seen comments calling her a hypocrite and saying she was irresponsible.

“What I did was wrong. I’m very sorry,” she said.

She also apologised to police and National Health Service (NHS) colleagues.

But the apology did little to calm a storm of criticism from opposition politicians and the public.

Police Scotland said officers had spoken to Calderwood about her actions and had warned her about her future conduct.

“The legal instructions on not leaving your home without a reasonable excuse apply to everyone,” Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said in a statement.

“Individuals must not make personal exemptions bespoke to their own circumstances. It is vital everyone adheres to these requirements.”

Sturgeon had said earlier on Sunday that the chief medical officer would no longer take part in coronavirus media briefings, and that she had not known Calderwood was spending weekends at her second home.

“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,” Sturgeon said.

Scotland has recorded 3,345 coronavirus cases and 218 deaths.

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