Scotland’s chief medical officer apologises for flouting guidance to visit second home

PUBLISHED: 13:22 05 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:22 05 April 2020

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (left) with Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood at a news conference in Edinburgh. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (left) with Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood at a news conference in Edinburgh. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire.

PA Wire/PA Images

Scotland’s chief medical officer has apologised for visiting her family’s second home in Fife during the coronavirus pandemic, against her own advice that all Scots should stay home.

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Dr Catherine Calderwood said her reasons for visiting the house were “not legitimate” and she is “truly sorry for not following advice she gave to others”.

Despite facing calls from politicians to stand down, she said she has spoken to first minister Nicola Sturgeon and will “continue to focus entirely” on her job of advising ministers over the outbreak.

Photos of Dr Calderwood and her family near a coastal retreat in Earlsferry were published in The Scottish Sun late on Saturday.

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


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

In a statement, Dr Calderwood 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 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.

“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.”

Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said there was no doubt Dr Calderwood’s visit - which the Scottish government confirmed was an overnight stay to “check on a family home” - was “ill-advised”.

He said she would be “answerable” for her decision when she appears at the daily coronavirus briefing with Nicola Sturgeon later.

He added: “I’m saying to everybody... do not go out except in the very exceptional circumstances that are listed, think about these things and remember by breaking them you are risking lives.”

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