Top UK coronavirus adviser Neil Ferguson, whose advice prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose a nationwide lockdown in the UK, has sensationally resigned for breaching the lockdown rules to meet his married lover Antonia Staats. Irked by his behaviour, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that his decision to quit was right and it was now ‘for the police’ to decide whether Neil Ferguson should be fined for breaking the lockdown. He told reporters, “The social distancing rules are there for everyone.”
A statement released by Ferguson read, “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.” Ferguson, whose group of scientists at London’s Imperial College had convinced the ministers to impose stringent rules on social distancing, said that he acted in the belief that he was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus, and completely isolated himself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms.
He added, “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.”
Ferguson’s married lover lives with her husband and children in another house. Staats had crossed London from her family home to visit Ferguson on at least two occasions, first on 30 March and then on 8 April, since lockdown measures were imposed.
Meanwhile, London’s Guardian newspaper quoted a statement from Imperial College London as saying that Ferguson ‘continues to focus on his important research.’
The latest development comes even as the number of people who have died with coronavirus in the UK reached 29,427 on Tuesday. The UK has become the worst-hit country in Europe. Experts have warned that the situation could spiral out of control if rules on social distancing were not adhered to stringently.