Scotland's chief medical officer gets police warning over lockdown breach

Catherine Calderwood apologises after visiting second home despite issuing advice to ‘only go out when necessary’
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  •  Dr Catherine Calderwood delivering a daily briefing on 
    coronavirus. Photograph: Andy Buchanan/PAPolice have given Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, a formal warning about her conduct after she visited her second home in Fife in breach of her own advice to avoid travel.
    Calderwood was forced to apologise after being pictured on Saturday with her family taking a walk with their dog through the East Neuk, a picturesque area of Fife on the Firth of Forth, about 45 miles from her main home in Edinburgh.
    At the Scottish government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday Calderwood admitted that she had also been to the property last weekend.
  • At the Scottish government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday Calderwood admitted that she had also been to the property last weekend.
    Scottish government adverts are being shown on television this weekend where Calderwood says: “To help save lives, stay at home.”
    With Calderwood now under intense pressure to resign, Scotland’s chief constable, Iain Livingstone, said his officers had visited her at her main home in Edinburgh on Sunday morning and formally warned her about her breach of safety regulations.View image on Twitter
  • “Earlier today 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.
  • “The legal instructions on not leaving your home without a reasonable excuse apply to everyone,” he said, on the Police Scotland Twitter feed. “Individuals must not make personal exemptions bespoke to their own circumstances. It is vital that everyone adheres to these requirements.”
    Nicola Sturgeon gave Calderwood her personal backing and insisted she had to stay at chief medical officer, to provide her with her expert advice during the crisis. The first minister said she did not want to her quit.
    Under intense questioning at the Holyrood briefing, she said: “Her advice and expertise has been invaluable and it continues to be so. If I’m to steer this country through this crisis to the best of my ability, I need her to advise me.”
  • Calderwood said: “I don’t offer any justification for what I did. It was wrong and I have seen the anger that people have quite rightly on Twitter.
    I have heard from my own NHS colleagues and I have let them down and the general public down. I made a fundamental mistake and I can’t justify it. I can only apologise and I apologise unreservedly.”
    Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon, said that Calderwood’s position was untenable. She said her “actions have undermined Scotland’s pandemic response and her own credibility. Unfortunately, it means she cannot and should not continue in her role.”
    That call was echoed by the Liberal Democrats, with Willie Rennie, the Scottish party leader and a local MSP, saying it seemed impossible for Calderwood to remain in her post because she had clearly broken her own instructions.
    In a statement, Calderwood apologised and acknowledged that the trip had been an error of judgment, but refused to resign. She said she had a job to do advising ministers on tackling the virus and supporting the medical profession.
    “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,” she said.
    Calderwood issued a public information film last week where she urged people to avoid all unnecessary travel. In the Scottish government video, she said: “This is a vital update about coronavirus. To help save lives, stay at home. Anyone can spread coronavirus. Only go out when absolutely necessary for food, medicine, work or exercise... Stay home. Protect Scotland’s NHS and save lives.”
    Police and politicians include Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, have warned people not to needlessly visit parks or recreation areas to sunbathe or have outings over the Easter period.
    Rennie said residents in Earlsferry, the village where Calderwood has a second home, were irate that large numbers of visitors had defied the lockdown order by going to their holiday homes or turning up for walks.
    Rennie and Wendy Chamberlain, the Lib Dem MSP for North East Fife and a former police officer, said tensions were running high in the area. “Local people are irate that holidaymakers and second home owners have ignored the warnings from the chief medical officer to stay at home. The main street was described as being like a motorway and many second homes are full up,” they said.
  • “There is real concern that with a swollen population and a virus sweeping through the local health services will just not cope.”
    The Scottish government said on Saturday that Calderwood had been checking the property was secure. “Since this start of this epidemic, the CMO has been working seven days a week preparing Scotland’s response,” a spokesman said.
    “She took the opportunity this weekend to check on a family home in Fife as she knows she will not be back again until the crisis is over. She stayed overnight before returning to Edinburgh. In line with guidance she stayed within her own household group and observed social distancing with anyone she was in passing in the village.”

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