Scotland’s chief medical officer has apologised “unreservedly” for visiting her second home in Fife during the coronavirus lockdown.

In a statement, Dr Catherine Calderwood said she would continue to focus on her job.

She is facing mounting criticism after images of her family trip to Earlsferry were published in The Scottish Sun.

And there have been calls for her step down over the matter with MSPs describing her position as “untenable”.

Together with Nicola Sturgeon, Dr Calderwood has been leading calls for the public to stay at home to defeat the virus.

In a statement issued on Sunday she said: “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.

“I have a job to do as chief medical officer to provide advice to ministers on the path of this virus and to support the medical profession as they work night and day to save lives, and having spoken with the first minister this morning I will continue to focus entirely on that job.”

‘Stay at home’ advice
The images emerged amid continuing advice from the CMO and other leading medical professionals and politicians to stay at home in order to save lives and protect the NHS.

Last month, the Scottish government issued a travel warning criticising the “irresponsible behaviour” of people with second homes and campervans travelling to the Highlands in a bid to isolate.

The Scottish Sun reported that Dr Calderwood and her family were seen walking across a golf course in Earlsferry on Saturday.

Earlsferry is a drive of more than an hour from Edinburgh, where they have their main family home.

Ms Lennon, Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, said the first minister and her top team must “lead by example” as she called for Dr Calderwood to resign.

She said: “The message that people should stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS is the right one.

“The chief medical officer delivers that instruction on behalf of the government but has failed to follow her own advice.

“Her actions have undermined Scotland’s pandemic response and her own credibility. Unfortunately, it means she cannot and should not continue in her role. Her position as CMO has become untenable.”

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said Dr Calderwood’s position was “very difficult, untenable even, given the damage this has caused to public trust”.

“There cannot be one rule for the bosses and another one for everyone else,” he said.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said “with great regret” that Dr Calderwood should lose her job over the issue.

“It is difficult to see how the chief medical officer will be able to carry the important messages about the virus and the lockdown if she has not even followed it herself,” he said.

“There is no doubt she has worked incredibly hard and led the country well through the early stages of this crisis.

“Yet it is difficult to see how she can continue to do that when she has made this massive error of judgement.”

Social distancing
Earlier a Scottish government spokesman said Dr Calderwood had been working seven days a week preparing Scotland’s response to the Covid-19 crisis and she decided to check on the family home in Fife as she would not be back until after the lockdown.

“She stayed overnight before returning to Edinburgh,” he added.

“In line with guidance she stayed within her own household group and observed appropriate social distancing with anyone she was in passing in the village.”