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Scotland’s chief medical officer resigns after visiting second home twice during lockdown

Dr Catherine Calderwood.
Dr Catherine Calderwood.

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer has resigned from the Scottish Government after it was revealed she had been ignoring her own advice to the public and visiting her second home in Fife twice during the coronavirus lockdown.

Dr Catherine Calderwood came under heavy criticism today after she was photographed visiting her holiday home over the weekend, and she subsequently admitted it was the second time she had done so during the lockdown.

Dr Calderwood, in her role as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) had told the public to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel in order to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

Earlier today, the Scottish Government said she would continue in her role, but no longer attend further press conferences.

But soon just before 10pm, it was announced that Dr Calderwood has resigned.

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.

“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.

“I will work with my team over the next few days to ensure a smooth transition to my successor.”

Dr Calderwood was warned by the police today over her conduct after her two visits from her home in Edinburgh to her other home in Fife.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who defended Dr Calderwood during a press briefing earlier today, added: “Dr Calderwood’s advice to me, to the government and to people across Scotland over the past few weeks has been the right advice.

“People should continue to stay at home to protect the NHS and to save lives.

“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.

“Catherine has been a transformational CMO, bringing changes to the way medicine is delivered in Scotland and in particular using her experience to bring an overdue focus to women’s health.

“Also, as I said earlier, her advice to me on Coronavirus will be missed – which is why she will work to ensure a smooth transition in the days ahead.

“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.”

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