Police will take ‘no further action’ over professor who ignored lockdown guidelines

PUBLISHED: 14:55 06 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:55 06 May 2020

Professor Neil Ferguson, director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, appearing on The Andrew Marr Show. Photograph: BBC/PA.

Professor Neil Ferguson, director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, appearing on The Andrew Marr Show. Photograph: BBC/PA.

Professor Neil Ferguson will not face further action by police after accepting he made an “error of judgment” by breaching social distancing rules despite being a key figure in influencing the lockdown.

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Scotland Yard criticised his behaviour as “plainly disappointing” but ruled out issuing a fine because he “has taken responsibility” after resigning as a key Government adviser in the coronavirus response.

The researcher, whose work was crucial in Boris Johnson’s move to enforce strict conditions, stood down from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) after allowing a woman to visit him at his London home.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the Imperial College London professor had made the “right decision to resign” but that it was a matter for police to decide whether to take further action.

Scotland Yard said: “We remain committed to our role in supporting adherence to Government guidance and have made it clear that our starting position is explaining the need to follow the regulations with anyone who is in breach in order to keep people safe and protect the NHS.


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“It is clear in this case that whilst this behaviour is plainly disappointing, Professor Ferguson has accepted that he made an error of judgment and has taken responsibility for that.

“We therefore do not intend to take any further action.”

The Metropolitan Police declined to say whether officers had spoken directly to Prof Ferguson.

The Telegraph reported that Prof Ferguson allowed 38-year-old Antonia Staats, said to be his “lover”, to visit him at home in London at least twice during the lockdown, on March 30 and April 8.

Downing Street denied that the government had pushed for his resignation, with the PM’s official spokesman saying No 10 was informed “just before” the story broke.

“The Prime Minister agrees with that decision. Social distancing regulations are there for a very clear purpose,” his spokesman said.

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