Dr Catherine Calderwood, the chief medical officer has resigned from the Scottish Government. 

The move has come within hours of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying she would still be providing the Scottish Government with medical advice on coronavirus.

Now the Scottish Government has said the CMO has resigned from the Scottish Government/

Dr Calderwood, said at the daily coronavirus press briefing earalier this afternoon that she would continue to focus on her job, after coming under fire after pictures of her family trip to Earlsferry were published in a national newspaper on Sunday. At a press conference she admitted that she had actually been twice to her second home in consecutive weekends.

Dr Calderwood, who earlier offered an apology for failing to properly follow the guidelines on not travelling away from home, said in her resignation statement: “I am deeply sorry for my actions and the mistakes I have made.

READ MORE: Coronavirus - CMO Catherine Calderwood removed from public-facing role

“The First Minister and I have had a further conversation this evening and we have agreed that the justifiable focus on my behaviour risks becoming a distraction from the hugely important job that government and the medical profession has to do in getting the country through this coronavirus pandemic. Having worked so hard on the government’s response, that is the last thing I want.
“The most important thing to me now and over the next few very difficult months is that people across Scotland know what they need to do to reduce the spread of this virus and that means they must have complete trust in those who give them advice.  It is with a heavy heart that I resign as Chief Medical Officer.
“I will work with my team over the next few days to ensure a smooth transition to my successor.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Dr Calderwood’s advice to me, to the government and to people across Scotland over the past few weeks has been the right advice. People should continue to stay at home to protect the NHS and to save lives.
“It is however clear that the mistake she made - even though she has apologised sincerely and honourably for it - risks distracting from and undermining confidence in the government’s public health message at this crucial time. That is not a risk either of us is willing to take.
“Catherine has been a transformational CMO, bringing changes to the way medicine is delivered in Scotland and in particular using her experience to bring an overdue focus to women’s health. Also, as I said earlier, her advice to me on Coronavirus will be missed - which is why she will work to ensure a smooth transition in the days ahead.
“While she has made a very serious mistake in her actions, that should not detract from the fact that as CMO she has made a highly valuable contribution to the medical profession and to health in Scotland, and I have no doubt she will continue to do so in future. She leaves office with my thanks and admiration.”

At 4.50pm, the First Minister said Dr Calderwood would continue to adviser her and the government but would not front media briefings and said the current public information campaign featuring the CMO was in the process of being withdrawn. The Scottish Government confirmed the revised campaign will not feature Dr Calderwood.

Dr Calderwood's resignation announcement arrived just over four hours later.

At the mid-afternoon coronavirus press briefing, Ms Sturgeon said  it would be “damaging not to have the ongoing advice and expertise” of Dr Calderwood.

After the pictures emerged of Dr Calderwood's visit, the Scottish Goverment defended the CMO, saying that her family's visit at the weekend was to "check on a family home in Fife as she knows she will not be back again until the crisis is over."

The statement, which made no mention of a second visit, went on: "In line with guidance she stayed within her own household group and observed social distancing with anyone she was... passing in the village."

On Sunday,  Dr Calderwood that she had actually been to the same second home the previous weekend too, with her husband.

"It's important to be clear, that I was also there last weekend with my husband, "she said at the daily coronavirus briefing.

"I did not follow the advice I am giving to others. I'm truly sorry for that."

Before removing Dr Calderwood from public-facing duties for the foreseeable future, Ms Sturgeon stressed that while she did not condone anyone breaking the guidance on preventing the spread of the virus, it would be “damaging not to have the ongoing advice and expertise” of Dr Calderwood.

READ MORE: Coronavirus - the decade-old warnings about unpreparedness and mass testing left unheeded

"I could not do my job as well as I am seeking to do my job without the continued advice and medical expertise that the CMO brings to this. And that is not in any way trying to diminish the seriousness of this. That is the wider point I am trying to ask people to understand," she said.

"I am asking you to consider the wider importance to the government and by extension the country by being able to count on the continued expertise of the CMO."

The First Minister added: "All of us including me will make mistakes, in these unprecedented times we are living in. When we do we must be candid about it and then learn from it. That is what the CMO is doing."

Police Scotland earlier said that the CMO had not been given any formal sanction after she admitted visiting her second home in Fife twice in consecutive weekends.

The Herald was told the warning  was done informally and does not amount to a formal warning that is given to adults for an offence. Nor was she fined.

Formal warnings are recorded for a period of two years by the Scottish Criminal Records office but they do not count as a conviction. They are operated by all police forces in consultation with the local procurator fiscal.

It comes as the latest data shows that 144 fixed penalties have been issued to people breaking new coronavirus restrictions in Scotland in last recorded week.

In one case six fines were issued after a house party in Aberdeen.

And in Paisley three men were fined for being in a van together.

Fines start at £30, doubling to £60 if they are not paid within 28 days. Repeat offenders can face fines of up to £960.

Later a police source told the Herald: "It's an informal warning... which is in line with our approach to policing the regaulations, focusing on engagement first and enforcement as a last resort..."

There had been calls for Dr Calderwood to step down over the matter with MSPs describing her position as "untenable".

Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats have all called for her to go.

"Dr Calderwood's position is very difficult, untenable even, given the damage this has caused public trust," Scottish Conservatives leader Jackson Carlaw said.

"The vast majority of Scots are complying with official advice to stay home and protect our NHS.

"There cannot be one rule for the bosses and another one for everyone else."

Last month, the Scottish government issued a warning, criticising the "irresponsible behaviour" of those with second homes and campervans who travelled to the Highlands in an attempt to self-isolate.

The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie MSP, and Lib Dem MP Wendy Chamberlain both represent the constituencies of Dr Calderwood's second home.

In a joint statement, the two called for her to go, saying: "There is no doubt she has worked incredibly hard and led the country well through the early stages of this crisis.

"If we are going to get through this pandemic, we need medical leaders who everyone can follow.

"It is with great regret that we say that the chief medical officer will need to go."

*Shops across Scotland are closing. Newspaper sales are falling. But we’ve chosen to keep our coverage of the coronavirus crisis free because it’s so important for the people of Scotland to stay informed during this difficult time.

However, producing The Herald's unrivalled analysis, insight and opinion on a daily basis still costs money, and we need your support to sustain our trusted, quality journalism.

To help us get through this, we’re asking readers to take a digital subscription to The Herald. You can sign up now for just £2 for two months.

If you choose to sign up, we’ll offer a faster loading, advert-light experience – and deliver a digital version of the print product to your device every day.

Click here to help The Herald.  

Thank you, and stay safe.