PROFESSOR Neil Ferguson’s lover said the coronavirus lockdown had ‘strained’ her marriage – a day after the couple enjoyed a secret romp.
The UK government scientist met with married Antonia Staats, 38, twice during the lockdown – despite leading the government advice to put the country into quarantine to stop the spread of coronavirus.
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The social campaigner travelled to Ferguson’s house from her £1.9million home in South London on March 30 then again on April 8.
In a podcast on March 31 – a day after the first meeting – Ms Staats said how lockdown had seen “everyone shouting at each other” at her home.
She said: “I think it’s also a strain on – maybe strained has sounded too negative – but it’s an interesting relationship challenge, for Chris [her husband] and my relationship.”
She added: “This is only week two of school being closed.
“And I think our first week had some really good days, some days where everyone was shouting at each other and, yeah, the prospect of doing this for several months it doesn’t seems awful, but it seems like quite a serious challenge to be doing.”
Ms Staats and her husband live together with their two children in a £1.9million home but are understood to be in an open marriage.
And disgraced Prof Ferguson today quit – saying that he accepted he had made an “error of judgement and took the wrong course of action”.
The 51-year-old leads the team at Imperial College London that handed a bombshell piece of research to the government that said failing to take drastic action would cause 250,000 deaths and overwhelm the NHS.
The first meeting between the pair coincided with a public warning by Prof Ferguson the lockdown measures would need to stay in place until June.
She made a second trip on April 8 despite telling friends she suspected her husband – an academic in his thirties – had coronavirus symptoms.
And Matt Hancock today backed police if they wanted to fine the professor – admitting he he been left “speechless” at the news.
The Health Secretary told Sky News: “He took the right decision to resign.
“It’s extraordinary. I don’t understand.”
In a statement, Prof Ferguson told the Telegraph: “I have therefore stepped back from my involvement in Sage [the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies].
“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.”
A Government spokesman confirmed Prof Ferguson had stepped back from his role.
Ms Staats declined to comment.
Prof Ferguson is one of the world’s most influential disease modellers.
In 2000, he and his colleagues studying infectious diseases moved from the University of Oxford to Imperial College to begin working on creating a model of the UK’s outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
In 2002, he was given an OBE in the New Year Honours for his work.
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