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A British scientist who worked with the government on its coronavirus response resigned from his advisory role Tuesday after a media report said he defied lockdown measures by letting a woman visit him on two occasions.

Neil Ferguson, a professor at Imperial College in London, stepped down from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the body that advises the government in emergencies. He led an academic team at the university that produced a model forecasting the spread of COVID-19 and predicted as many as 500,000 deaths if the government failed to take action.

The projections prompted officials to impose unprecedented social distancing measures.


Neil Ferguson, a British college professor, stepped down from his advisory role with the government on its coronavirus response after he admitted to letting a woman visit him on two occasions during mandated lockdowns.  (Imperial College)

Ferguson said he "made an error in judgment" when he let the 38-year-old woman visit him twice at his London home amid a government-mandated lockdown -- once on March 30 and once on April 8. The measure allows residents to only leave their homes for food, exercise, medical appointments and if they must physically report to work.

"I accept I made an error of judgment and took the wrong course of action," Ferguson said in a statement to Fox News through Imperial College. "I have therefore stepped back from my involvement in SAGE.

"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," he added. "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.”

The woman lives with her husband and children in another home, the newspaper reported. Friends of the woman told the paper that she considered her household and Ferguson's residence to be one.

The U.K. recorded 196,239 COVID-19 cases, including 29,502 deaths as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.


Ferguson tested positive for the virus in March, according to a tweet in which he said he developed a "slight dry but persistent cough."

A spokesperson for Imperial College told Fox News that Ferguson "continues to focus on his important research.”