Coronavirus: Police not taking action against Neil Ferguson after lockdown breach

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Prof Neil Ferguson has resigned from his government advisory role after breaking lockdown rules. (Parliamentlive.tv)

The Met Police has said it will not take action against Prof Neil Ferguson following his breach of coronavirus lockdown rules.

Prof Ferguson, one of the government’s key scientific advisers who was instrumental in Boris Johnson’s decision to impose the draconian lockdown on 23 March, resigned from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) on Tuesday after ignoring the restrictions.

The Daily Telegraph reported Prof Ferguson broke the rules to allow his “married lover” Antonia Staats into his London home “on at least two occasions”.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said it would be a matter for police to decide whether to take action against him.

However, the Met later said he had accepted responsibility and therefore it would not be taking any action – despite his “plainly disappointing” actions.

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The force said in a statement: “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.

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

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

Hancock told Sky News on Wednesday that he was “left speechless” by the story, adding: “It’s extraordinary. I don’t understand.”

He said Prof Ferguson was right to resign from SAGE, adding it was “just not possible” for him to continue advising the government.

Matt Hancock said the story about Prof Ferguson left him 'speechless'. (Sky News)

“Prof Ferguson is a very eminent and impressive scientist and the science that he has done has been an important part of what we have listened to.

“I think that he took the right decision to resign.”

Read more: The high-profile names who have been accused of breaching lockdown rules

The lockdown, which prevents people from meeting anyone who lives outside their household, is set to be reviewed on Thursday.

Johnson is also expected to share his “roadmap” for easing the restrictions on Sunday.

However, Hancock said the current social distancing rules “are there for everyone, they are incredibly important and they are deadly serious”.

“They are the means by which we have managed to get control of this virus.”

Government lockdown guidelines say “police and local authorities have the powers to enforce the requirements set out in law if people do not comply with them”. Officers have the power to issue £60 fines.

In a statement, Prof Ferguson said: "I accept I made an error of judgement 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."

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