Pandemic expert denies calling for first UK lockdown

Professor Neil Ferguson produced shocking modelling predictions in March 2020 that warned half a million Britons would diE unless tougher action was taken to slow the spread of the virus.

Shortly afterwards the country was plunged into lockdown as then prime minister Boris Johnson ordered everyone to “stay at home”. Schools, shops and hospitality venues closed, social distancing came into force and people were allowed to exercise outdoors just once a day.

Giving evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry yesterday, Prof Ferguson insisted he didn’t tell officials to act. The epidemiologist said the ­situation was “a lot more complex”. Asked by the inquiry’s lead counsel, Hugo Keith KC, if ­
he became involved in determination of ­policy, he answered that “it was a difficult question to answer”.

Prof Ferguson quit as an adviser for the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies after being caught breaking social distancing rules to meet his married lover.

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The Imperial College London academic was nicknamed “Professor Lockdown” and drew criticism for his team’s controversial modelling forecasts.

He said: “I know I’m very much associated with a particular policy. “I don’t think I stepped over that line to say ‘we need to do this now’.

“What I tried to do was focus people’s minds on what ­was going to happen and the consequences of ­current trends.”

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