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Scotland’s chief medical officer apologises for flouting lockdown advice to visit second home

Dr Calderwood (right) has been criticised for failing to follow government advice (PA)

3 min read

Scotland's chief medical officer said she “apologises unreservedly” after being caught failing to follow social distancing rules by visiting her second home.

It comes after the Scottish Sun revealed Dr Catherine Calderwood had travelled 44 miles to her house in Fife despite having issued the government guidance not to travel. 

She was photographed taking a walk near the property just days after posting a photo of her family at their main residence in Edinburgh clapping for the NHS. 

This is despite the Scottish government heavily criticising the “irresponsible behaviour” of people travelling to second homes last month.

A spokesperson defended the trip, saying Dr Calderwood had “been working seven days a week preparing Scotland’s response” to the outbreak.

They said the journey was to check on the house which was set to stay empty throughout the crisis, and the group followed all social distancing measures. 

But in a statement, Dr Calderwood said: "I wish to apologise unreservedly for the issue reported in the media today.

"While there are reasons for what I did, they do not justify it and they were not legitimate reasons to be out of my home.

"While I and my family followed the guidance on social distancing at all times, I understand that I did not follow the advice I am giving to others, and I am truly sorry for that.

"I know how important this advice is and I do not want my mistake to distract from that.

She went on to rule out resigning from her post amid the scandal.

"I have a job to do as chief medical officer to provide advice to ministers on the path of this virus and to support the medical profession as they work night and day to save lives,” she added.

“And having spoken with the First Minister this morning I will continue to focus entirely on that job."

Prior to her apology, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said "with great regret" that Dr Calderwood should lose her job over the issue.

"It is difficult to see how the chief medical officer will be able to carry the important messages about the virus and the lockdown if she has not even followed it herself," he said.

"There is no doubt she has worked incredibly hard and led the country well through the early stages of this crisis.

"Yet it is difficult to see how she can continue to do that when she has made this massive error of judgement."

Her trip has attracted criticism from across Scottish politics, including from the Scottish Police Federation, Labour's health spokeswoman Monica Lennon and Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs.
 

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