THE Belfast-born Chief Medical Officer of Scotland Dr Catherine Calderwood has resigned after being caught taking trips to her second home during lockdown.
Making the announcement last night, she said she was "deeply sorry" and resigned "with a heavy heart".
In a statement, the 56-year-old 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 had been issued with a Police Scotland warning for visiting her second home in Fife during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Chief Constable of Scotland Iain Livingstone confirmed that his officers spoke to Dr Calderwood on Sunday, shortly before she decided to resign.
She said she agreed with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that the "justifiable focus" on her behaviour risked distracting from the pandemic response.
Dr Catherine Calderwood has been roundly criticised on all sides for taking two family trips to Fife, about an hour’s drive from Edinburgh.
At a press conference Dr Calderwood apologised unreservedly, before adding that she intended to remain in her official position and focus on the COVID-19 crisis.
But late last night she decided that resignation was the only option.
Police Scotland’s Chief Constable said, "The legal instructions on not leaving your home without a reasonable excuse apply to everyone," he said.
“Individuals must not make personal exemptions bespoke to their own circumstances."
Dr Calderwood’s flouting of the rules was particularly embarrassing as the Scottish government has consistently criticised the "irresponsible behaviour" of people with second homes and campervans travelling to the Highlands in a bid to isolate.
Dr Calderwood said on Sunday: "While there are reasons for what I did, they do not justify it and they were not legitimate reasons to be out of my home.
"While I and my family followed the guidance on social distancing at all times, I understand that I did not follow the advice I am giving to others, and I am truly sorry for that.
"I know how important this advice is and I do not want my mistake to distract from that.
She later told a press briefing that she had visited her second home last weekend with her husband as well.
"What I did was wrong, I'm very sorry and it will not happen again," she said.
Dr Calderwood was born in Belfast in 1968.
After attending school she left Northern Ireland to study at Cambridge University.
Graduating in 1990, she relocated to Scotland where she has worked as an obstetrician and gynaecologist.
She was appointed Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer in 2015.