Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby broke Covid rule to visit girlfriend

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, 71, who has criticised ministers over city’s new lockdown broke Covid rules himself to visit his girlfriend

  • Sir Peter Soulsby, 71, broke lockdown rules to visit Lesley Summerland, 64 
  • Neighbours claim they saw him ‘regularly’ in April and started filming him in May 
  • Mayor today spoke at a conference as his city is shut down after spike in cases

The Mayor of Leicester broke lockdown rules to visit his girlfriend and stay at her house overnight. 

Sir Peter Soulsby, 71, breached the rules to see his partner Lesley Summerland, 64, and carry out maintenance on her home throughout April and May. 

Neighbours filmed the Mayor at Ms Summerland’s home on several occasions as he arrived ‘carrying overnight bags and shirts.’

Last night, Matt Hancock confirmed Leicester – a city in the East Midlands home to 330,000 people – would face a two-week lockdown extension. 

Sir Peter Soulsby, 71, breached the rules to see his partner Lesley Summerland, 64, and carry out maintenance on her home throughout April and May

The streets of Leicester were almost empty this morning as residents responded to the warnings about a coronavirus surge 

The city’s mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, today told a press conference he wished ministers had warned of the outbreak a ‘long time ago’ and revealed local health chiefs were still working through a ‘mountain’ of data to see where the virus is spreading

In the clips seen by The Sun, Sir Peter can be seen helping his partner with maintenance on her home and climbing a ladder to fit a window. 

Throughout May, the Labour politician used his social media account to urge residents to ‘stay safe at home’. 

Police spoke to the Mayor after the visits came to light and gave him advice about the restrictions in place. 

Speaking to BBC Radio Leicester last month, he apologised for the error of judgement and admitted ‘it was setting a very bad example’.

But he pointed to other ‘high-profile people’ who had flouted the lockdown. 

Sir Peter told the BBC: ‘I don’t think anybody would claim that there was anything in my behaviour that ran any risk whatsoever of spreading the virus.

‘It can be certainly interpreted as against the spirit of the lockdown, if not against the regulations.’

He said he was ‘ready to apologise’ unlike ‘some of the high-profile people who are far more influential in setting policy about this than I am’.

Officers said they would not be taking further action against him because the allegations, which the mayor admitted, were ‘historic’. 

Today, Sir Peter said the new lockdown in the city ‘should have been brought in much sooner.’ 

But furious Leicester residents blamed an explosion in coronavirus cases on ‘idiots’ flouting social distancing rules – as ministers warned people face arrest if they break a new lockdown being imposed on the city from today.  

Data shows how Leicester’s coronavirus outbreak has grown over time. The numbers compiled for England only include pillar one swab tests, which officials say are only given to patients with a medical need or key workers

The measures for Leicester first announced by Mr Hancock in a dramatic statement to the Commons last night include:

  • All non-essential shops will close from today, with law to be rushed through to underpin the new restrictions, after 800-plus cases were recorded in Leicester since mid-June and the area accounted for around 10 per cent of all positive tests in the UK over the past week;
  • Schools will close from Thursday and will not reopen until next term, amid fears an unusually high incidence in children is driving the spread. They will stay open for vulnerable children and offspring of key workers;
  • People are advised to avoid all but essential travel to, from, and within Leicester and should ‘stay at home as much as you can’, but there is no formal travel ban at this stage;
  • Easing of lockdown in England on Saturday will not apply in Leicester, meaning pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas will stay shut;
  • Shielding measures will not be loosened in the city on 6 July, unlike the rest of England where the most clinically-vulnerable will be able to spend more time outside.

The Mayor today told a press conference that testing has increased in the city in recent days and weeks as he welcomed the lockdown. 

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: ‘The Secretary of State (Matt Hancock) announced that he believed there was an outbreak in Leicester the best part of two weeks ago.

‘Since then, we’ve been struggling to get information from them about what data they had, what led them to believe there was a particular problem here, and struggling to get them to keep the level of testing in Leicester.’

He said he had been trying ‘for weeks’ to access data on the level of testing in the city and was only given access last Thursday.

When asked whether a local lockdown should have been brought in earlier, he said: ‘If as seems to be the case, the figures suggest there are issues in the city, I would wish that they had shared that with us right from the start, and I wish they had taken a more speedy decision rather than leaving it 11 days from the Secretary of State’s first announcement…

‘That’s a long gap, and a long time for the virus to spread.’

Leicestershire County Council issued this map today showing the area that will be subject to strict lockdown measures 

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