Top U.K. Government Scientist Resigns after Violating His Own Lockdown Guidelines to Meet Mistress

Mairead McArdle

The United Kingdom government scientist who advised Prime Minister Boris Johnson to put Britain on lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak has resigned following news that he violated his own social-distancing guidelines to meet his mistress.

Professor Neil Ferguson, 51, had his married mistress over at his house just after he had spent two weeks in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus, The Telegraph reported.

Antonia Staats, 38, lives with her husband and children in another part of London and is reportedly in an open marriage. Her two visits to Ferguson’s residence occurred in late March and early April, the second even after she had confided to friends that she suspected her husband had symptoms of coronavirus.

“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 [the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies],” Ferguson told The Telegraph.

“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,” the epidemiologist continued. “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.”

Before stepping down, Ferguson was part of the teams that informed and advised the government and Department of Health in particular on how to grapple with the worsening outbreak. His models of the coronavirus suggested that 250,000 people in Britain could die from being infected if social distancing measures were not put in place.

The prime minister, who survived the coronavirus himself, is scheduled to address the nation on Sunday to offer details on how to “unlock the various parts of the UK economy.”

Johnson implemented lockdown measures on March 23 and said last week that it is still too early to know when social-distancing measures can be eased. He assured that plans to reopen schools and other public spaces are in the works.

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