Scotland’s chief medical officer resigns after flouting coronavirus lockdown rules

Catherine Calderwood admitted visiting her second home twice, breaching regulations based on her own medical advice


Catherine Calderwood had fronted the Scottish Government briefings on Covid-19. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire/PA Images

Scotland's chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, has resigned after she was found to have flouted her own advice on coronavirus by travelling to her second home.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said Calderwood, who has been Scotland's CMO since 2015 and who has been integral to the UK and Scottish governments' responses to the Covid-19 outbreak, would step down and would no longer front Holyrood's daily coronavirus press briefings.

A row erupted yesterday and Police Scotland released a statement saying officers had visited Calderwood after she was photographed at her second home in Fife.


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Along with its UK counterparts, the Scottish government has told citizens to remain in their main home for the duration of the lockdown measures that have been put in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

But Calderwood admitted she had breached the regulations after being photographed by the Scottish Sun at a second property, more than an an hour’s drive from her home in Edinburgh.

Police Scotland's 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."

Calderwood's resignation marks the end of her five-year tenure as chief medical officer. The obstetrician and gynaecologist was previously the Scottish Government's senior medical officer for women's and children's health and NHS England's national clinical director for maternity and women's health.

In her own statement, shared on Twitter, Calderwood said she had reasons for visiting the property but that they were not "legitimate reasons".

And she admitted it was the second time she had broken the regulations. "As well as this weekend, it's important to be clear, that I also was there last weekend with my husband," she said yesterday at the Scottish Government's daily coronavirus briefing.

"I did not follow the advice I am giving to others. I'm truly sorry for that," she said.

She said she would "continue to focus entirely" on her role, having spoken to Sturgeon earlier in the day. 

But in a second statement in the evening, Calderwood said: “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.”

The resignation came despite Sturgeon's backing earlier in the day. The SNP later said at the daily briefing she wanted the CMO to stay on and that her advice on responding to the pandemic had been "invaluable".

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