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Belfast born chief medical officer apologises after being pictured visiting second home during coronavirus lockdown

Scottish Police have visited Dr Catherine Calderwood and gave her a warning over her conduct.


Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood has been part of the daily coronavirus briefings alongside Nicola Sturgeon (PA)

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood has been part of the daily coronavirus briefings alongside Nicola Sturgeon (PA)

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood has been part of the daily coronavirus briefings alongside Nicola Sturgeon (PA)

A Belfast born doctor, who is Scotland's chief medical officer, has apologised after being pictured at her second home during the coronavirus lockdown.

Dr Catherine Calderwood, who lives in Edinburgh with her family, is facing criticism after pictures were published in The Scottish Sun newspaper today. Dr Calderwood attended Methodist College in Belfast.

In a statement released on Sunday morning, she 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 follow the guidance on social distancing at all times, I understand that I did not follow the advice I am giving 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. 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, and having spoken with the First Minister this morning I will continue to focus entirely on that job."

Dr Calderwood said she was also at her second home last weekend with her husband.

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It has since emerged that police have visited Dr Calderwood and issued her with a warning.

Scotland's Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said in a statement: "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."

Just days earlier, the 51-year-old doctor tweeted a photo of her family from their main residence in Edinburgh as they clapped for the frontline NHS staff working to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The paper says the home in the capital is just two-and-a-half miles from the Scottish Government building where Dr Calderwood delivers daily briefings on the virus with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Earlsferry is a drive of more than an hour from Edinburgh.

The images emerged amid continuing advice from the CMO and other leading medical professionals and politicians to stay at home in order to save lives and protect the NHS.

Last month, the Scottish Government issued a travel warning criticising the "irresponsible behaviour" of people with second homes and campervans travelling to the Highlands in a bid to isolate.

On Friday, the Scottish First Minister said the upcoming Easter break would be "a holiday period unlike any we've had in our lifetimes".

Dr Calderwood also stressed people should adhere to the restrictions, and said it was looking less likely summer holidays will take place this year as they have done previously.

Dr Calderwood's colleague, Scotland's National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said nobody knows the social distancing guidelines better than her and she would not have put people in the area of her holiday home at risk.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: "My understanding is that she has worked like the rest of us 24/7 on this for weeks now and that family do have a home a little bit away from Edinburgh and they went to check on it.

"They observed social distancing throughout, so they were very safe. Nobody knows those guidelines better than Catherine and the rest of us.

"So I'm confident that she was safe during that, her family were safe and those around them were safe."

A Scottish Government spokesman said on Saturday: "Since this start of this epidemic, the CMO has been working seven days a week preparing Scotland's response.

"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."

Nicola Sturgeon said: "The chief medical officer made a mistake in travelling away from her home. Whatever her reasons for doing so it was wrong and she knows that.

She added: "All of us, including me, will make mistakes in these unprecedented times we are living in. When we do we must be candid about it and learn from it."

She said the CMO is learning from her error, and added: "Over the past few weeks, as we have been dealing with this crisis, her advice and expertise has been invaluable to me."

She added that "not withstanding her mistake on this, she is doing extremely well".

Ms Sturgeon said Dr Calderwood had offered to do whatever is in the best interest of the country.

The First Minister added: "In my view, that would not be her resignation."

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