Key scientist resigns for ‘undermining’ lockdown message

Professor Neil Ferguson reportedly allowed a woman to visit his London home on two occasions.

Key scientist resigns for ‘undermining’ lockdown message

A scientist whose research aided Boris Johnson’s decision to impose a lockdown has resigned from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) after admitting an “error of judgment”.

Professor Neil Ferguson said on Tuesday that he regretted “undermining” the continued need for social distancing to tackle coronavirus after it was claimed he broke the rules.

The Telegraph reported that he allowed a woman to visit him at home in London on at least two occasions during the lockdown.

Professor Ferguson’s research with Imperial College London colleagues warned that 250,000 people could die in the UK without drastic action shortly before the Prime Minister imposed the restrictions.

Prof Ferguson told the Telegraph: “I accept I made an error of judgment and took the wrong course of action. I have therefore stepped back from my involvement in Sage.

“I acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus, and completely isolated myself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms.

“I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing to control this devastating epidemic. The Government guidance is unequivocal, and is there to protect all of us.”

A Government spokesman confirmed Prof Ferguson’s resignation.

Scotland’s chief medical officer resigned last month after ignoring her own advice urging people to stay at home.

Dr Catherine Calderwood initially issued an apology and was backed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to remain in the role.

However after further conversations, Dr Calderwood said she would resign “with a heavy heart”, agreeing the “justifiable focus on my behaviour risks becoming a distraction from the hugely important job”.

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