A TOP coronavirus scientist whose advice led the UK into lockdown has resigned from his Government position after he was caught breaking social distancing rules to meet his married lover, campaigner Antonia Staats.
Professor Neil Ferguson, 51, allowed Ms Staats to visit him at home during the lockdown while lecturing the public on the need for strict social distancing to halt the spread of the deadly virus.
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Who is Antonia Staats?
Ms Staats, 38, is a left-wing campaigner who works for US-based online network Avaaz.
The organisation promotes global activism on issues such as climate change.
She grew up in Isny, south Germany, went to university in Berlin and came to London in 2003.
Ms Staats gained a masters in Asian politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.
Her name has hit the headlines this week because she visited Prof Ferguson at least twice during lockdown – even though it was his advice that led to the wide-ranging restrictions across the country.
He broke social distancing rules to meet his married lover, the Telegraph reported.
The academic allowed the woman to visit him at home during the lockdown while lecturing the public on the need for strict social distancing in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Prof Ferguson leads the team at Imperial College London that produced the computer-modelled research which led to the lockdown.
The stats claimed that more than 500,000 Britons would die without the measures.
Prof Ferguson has frequently appeared in the media to support the lockdown and praised the "very intensive social distancing" measures.
Despite this, he allowed Ms Staats to come to his home in March and April.
The first of her visits, on Monday March 30, coincided with a public warning by Prof Ferguson that the one-week-old lockdown measures would have to remain until June.
She made a second visit on April 8 despite telling friends she suspected that her husband, an academic in his 30s, had symptoms of coronavirus.
Prof Ferguson has now resigned from his Government advisory position.
Is she married and does she have children?
Ms Staats is married to an academic in his 30s who works at SOAS.
She lives with him and their two children at a £1.9million home.
The couple are understood to be in an open marriage.
She gave an interview to a podcast in late March, when she said lockdown presented an "interesting relationship challenge".
During the interview, she said "I think it's also a strain on – maybe strained has sounded too negative – but it's an interesting relationship challenge, for [her husband] and my relationship."
What does she do at Avaaz?
Avaaz, once called "the globe's largest and most powerful online activist network" by the Guardian, is based in America and launched in 2007.
It promotes global activism on issues such as climate change, human rights, animal rights, corruption, poverty and conflict.
Ms Staats works as a senior campaigner for the group.
Researchers and campaigners for Avaaz drive investigations, strategy development and content production.
Previously, Ms Staats has taken to social media to find young Londoners who were unhappy with the EU referendum.
Her greatest victory for the group occurred in 2018, when she organised a petition seeking to ban the use of insecticide neonicotinoids because of its effect on bees.
Her petition attracted more than five million signatures and led to the EU banning use of the substance.
In early April 2020, she backed a campaign calling on governments around the world to suspend rent and mortgage payments in order to "help citizens weather the corona lockdown".
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