Nicola Sturgeon faced a TV attack the “appalling hypocrisy” of her chief medic – who twice defied the coronavirus lockdown to visit her holiday home.
Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, resigned last night just hours after the First Minister claimed she would stay in post.
In a humiliating press conference Dr Calderwood admitted she “made a mistake and let people down” and “cannot justify” her visit with her family.
She finally resigned late last night saying the scandal had distracted from advice to the public – of which she was the public face.
Ms Sturgeon this morning said: “I didn’t try to defend what she’d done and I’m not trying to defend what she’d done.”
But in a clash on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, the First Minister insisted it had been right to attempt to keep Dr Calderwood in post.
She said she had needed “continuity” of advice in a fast-changing situation.
Ms Sturgeon said the medic gave “good high quality advice” and “I also know how hard she’s worked”.
But GMB host Piers Morgan fumed: “I don’t wanna hear it.
“You’re continuing to tell me what a great hard worker she is – the damage she’s done is potentially incalculable.”
The ITV host said the press conference was “one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever had to witness” and the Chief Medical Officer was guilty of “appalling hypocrisy”.
He said: “You had a whole day before you dealt with this thing. You admit every day is crucial in this fight.”
Fellow host Susanna Reid added: “It sends a terrible message to the rest of us.”
Ms Sturgeon replied: “I agree and ultimately that’s why she’s no longer in office this morning.”
Asked if it was okay to go to visit a second home, the First Minister said: “No, it is not.”
The chief medic issued a grovelling TV apology yesterday, saying she was “truly sorry” for not adhering to coronavirus guidelines by visiting her second home – twice.
Photos picturing her with her family near a coastal retreat in Earlsferry were published in The Scottish Sun on Saturday.
Initially she was backed by Nicola Sturgeon to remain in the role.
However after further conversations with the First Minister, Dr Calderwood said she had resigned “with a heavy heart”, agreeing the “justifiable focus on my behaviour risks becoming a distraction from the hugely important job”.
In a statement, she added: “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.”
Dr Calderwood will now work “over the next few days to ensure a smooth transition” to her successor.