A government coronavirus scientist has resigned from his position after breaking social-distancing rules to meet his married lover. Professor Neil Ferguson allowed Antonia Staats, 38, to visit his home at least twice during lockdown, despite living elsewhere in London with her husband and children. Nicknamed ‘Professor Lockdown’, he had previously been credited with prompting Boris Johnson to impose social-distancing restrictions across the UK in March. Research from the epidemiologist and his team at Imperial College London showed that 500,000 people could die if the Prime Minister didn’t act. Professor Ferguson told The Telegraph that he had made an ‘error of judgement’ and taken the ‘wrong course of action’ in choosing to see Ms Staats amid lockdown. He confirmed that he has now stepped back from Sage, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.
He continued: ‘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.’ Professor Ferguson had previously appeared in the media to back the government’s strict social-distancing measures. On March 30, when he was first visited by Ms Staats, he had warned the public that lockdown restrictions could be necessary until June. She then visited his home again on April 8, despite suspecting her husband was showing coronavirus symptoms at the time, The Telegraph reports. The publication states that they are in an open marriage.’