Scotland’s chief medical officer has resigned after being caught breaching lockdown rules in place to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Catherine Calderwood said she was “deeply sorry” for her “mistakes” and that by resigning she hoped her actions would not detract from the ongoing safety guidelines.
In a statement on Sunday evening, she added: “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. I will work with my team over the next few days to ensure a smooth transition to my successor.”
It comes after photos revealed Calderwood had visited her second home over the weekend – which breaches national guidelines to only travel if absolutely necessary during the pandemic.
She later said she had received messages from people on social media who had criticised her actions and called her a “hypocrite”.
“I’ve seen a lot of the comments from members of the public on Twitter today, people calling me a hypocrite.,” she said, adding: “People telling me about the hardships they’ve endured while following my guidance.”
“My office has also received emails from members of the public who are making clear to me their disappointment and unhappiness at what I’ve done.
“People have told me that I’m irresponsible, that I’ve behaved as if my advice does not apply to me.
“I want people to know that I have seen all of that and I’ve heard the comments. What I did was wrong. I’m very sorry.”
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In response to the resignation, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Calderwood had been a “tranformational” chief medical officer, but that her “serious mistakes” had undermined the critical advice to stay at home.
She said: “Dr Calderwood’s advice to me, to the government and to people across Scotland over the past few weeks has been the right advice. People should continue to stay at home to protect the NHS and to save lives.
“It is however clear that the mistake she made – even though she has apologised sincerely and honourably for it – risks distracting from and undermining confidence in the government’s public health message at this crucial time. That is not a risk either of us is willing to take.”