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Scotland’s chief medical officer quits after being caught breaching lockdown with second home trips

Scotland’s chief medical officer quits after being caught breaching lockdown with second home trips

Dr Calderwood’s resignation comes after she was warned by police about her visits.

3 min read

Scotland’s chief medical officer has resigned after she was caught breaching the UK-wide coronavirus lockdown by twice visiting her second home.

Dr Catherine Calderwood said her behaviour risked “becoming a distraction” as she quit her post as the Scottish government’s most senior medical adviser.

The Scottish Sun published photographs over the weekend of Dr Calderwood visiting her holiday home on the east coast of Scotland, some 44 miles away from her main residence in Edinburgh.

The chief medical officer on Sunday apologised “unreservedly” for the trip, which she said was the second such visit since lockdown was imposed.

She had initially been backed to stay in post by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

In the wake of an excruciating press conference on Sunday afternoon, in which the CMO was shielded from answering questions, Ms Sturgeon had said Dr Calderwood would be "withdrawing from media briefings" but staying in her job.

But in a further statement issued on Sunday night, Dr Calderwood 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."

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

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

Ms Sturgeon meanwhile praised the “transformational” Dr Calderwood for giving the “right advice” to the people of Scotland over recent days.

But she said: “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.”

The First Minister added: “While she has made a very serious mistake in her actions, that should not detract from the fact that as CMO she has made a highly valuable contribution to the medical profession and to health in Scotland, and I have no doubt she will continue to do so in future. She leaves office with my thanks and admiration.”

The resignation comes after Dr Calderwood was given an official warning by Police Scotland to follow the guidance she herself had issued.

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 outgoing chief medical officer said she would now “work with my team over the next few days to ensure a smooth transition to my successor”.

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