Labour MP Rosie Duffield broke lockdown rules by allowing her married TV director lover to visit her home while he was still living with his wife
- Rosie Duffield admitted breaching coronavirus restrictions by meeting TV director James Routh
- She saw him on a five-hour walk in April and then allowed him to visit her constituency home
- He was living with his wife at another property but has now moved in with Ms Duffield
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
A Labour MP was last night forced to apologise for breaking lockdown rules with her new married lover.
Rosie Duffield admitted breaching coronavirus restrictions by meeting TV director James Routh before he moved in with her.
She also quit as a Labour Whip in the Commons.
The apology by the Canterbury MP came after The Mail on Sunday asked Ms Duffield to justify seeing Mr Routh on a five-hour walk in April and then allowing him to visit her constituency home when he was still living with his wife at another property.
Rosie Duffield, 48, said she and her new partner had been trying to ‘navigate a difficult personal situation as responsibly as possible’
Ms Duffield, 48, said she and her new partner had been trying to ‘navigate a difficult personal situation as responsibly as possible’, but added: ‘I apologise that during that process we breached the guidelines.’
While Labour MPs privately praised Ms Duffield for quickly apologising, the episode is embarrassing for her party’s leader who last week tore into the Prime Minister’s aide Dominic Cummings over his lockdown trip. Sir Keir Starmer said he would have sacked Mr Cummings if he had been his boss. He did not respond to a request for comment last night on Ms Duffield’s conduct.
Ms Duffield won praise last year after revealing in a moving Commons speech how she had been the victim of domestic abuse.
However, as she had criticised some people in her constituency for not respecting the anti-virus rules, she was challenged yesterday to justify her own behaviour during the lockdown. The MoS understands she met Mr Routh, 45, in April for a long walk in her constituency when he was still living with his wife. The MP has also not denied he was able to visit her at a property she was renting in Canterbury while he was still in his marital home.
The 48-year-old former teaching assistant has now moved Mr Routh – who has now separated from his wife – into her taxpayer-funded London flat, where she stays when at the Commons.
She insisted last night she and Mr Routh had observed the two-metre social distancing rule when they met, but guidelines then in place banned meeting with people outside your own household.
Friends last night conceded Ms Duffield had broken the guidelines by meeting Mr Routh before their relationship as such began.
But they insisted she had not broken the rules by allowing him to move in with her as he was not returning to his former marital home, claiming the guidelines made allowance for marriage break-ups. In a statement last night, Ms Duffield said: ‘My partner and I have been attempting to navigate a difficult personal situation as responsibly as possible. I apologise during that process we breached guidelines.
‘A relationship breakdown is difficult at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic. I hope people can understand why I took the steps I did and know that I take responsibility for the breaches that occurred and for which I apologise.’
Mr Routh worked on Ms Duffield’s Election campaign last year which saw her hold the seat she won in a shock victory in 2017
Ms Duffield stressed that she had checked before Mr Routh moved in with her to make sure it complied with the guidance.
Mr Routh told the MoS that the separation from his wife had been ‘painful’, adding that it had become ‘increasingly impossible to live under the same roof’.
However, friends of his wife, with whom he has three children, said she is ‘heartbroken’ by the break-up. The family home was a £400,000 property two miles from Ms Duffield’s constituency office. A friend of Mr Routh’s wife told the MoS: ‘His wife had no idea this was coming. She didn’t know anything and thought her husband was happy.
‘She’s not only heartbroken about what’s happened, but also that Rosie is telling her supporters not to break the rules when she’s doing exactly that. And the fact that Rosie couldn’t wait until the pandemic was over.’
Mr Routh worked on Ms Duffield’s Election campaign last year which saw her hold the seat she won in a shock victory in 2017. He spent his time helping her make badges, tweeting his support for the mother-of-two. Miss Duffield called him her ‘marching buddy’.
Mr Routh said he and his wife are now separated. His wife declined to comment.
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