Published: 16:35, 01 June 2020
| Updated: 22:07, 01 June 2020
A Kent MP caught breaking lockdown rules after criticising others for not social distancing admits she is a hypocrite and "ashamed" of her actions.
The Canterbury and Whitstable MP admitted allowing married James Routh to visit her home when he was still living with his wife, from whom he is separated.
The couple also went on a long walk at a time when lockdown rules restricted meeting people from other households outside.
Ms Duffield's actions have sparked claims of hypocrisy, with the 48-year-old having been extremely vocal against those not complying with restrictions during the pandemic.
In one tweet about queues outside a Whitstable chip shop, she wrote: "This horrifies me. I really am struggling to understand what is so difficult about social distancing. It has been clearly explained for months."
Today, she accepted she had been hypocritical and apologised to her constituents, admitting her actions were "wrong".
"I do feel ashamed of my actions and bear that shame..."
In a statement given exclusively to KentOnline's sister paper, the Kentish Gazette, she said: "I have been telling you to stay home and stay safe, particularly with regards to social distancing and this remains extremely important. But whilst I was completely isolated from family and friends for many weeks, I did see my partner towards the end of the most crucial lockdown period.
"This was wrong. I was hypocritical. I am so, so sorry.
"Relationship breakdowns are always difficult and I won’t go into further details about my personal circumstances or why my partner and I broke lockdown as there are other people involved and they are individuals who deserve their privacy.
"People never make choices such as these lightly, but I do understand that as an elected person holding public office, I have to be held to the highest standards. It is not unreasonable to have expected better of me."
She added that while she is "ashamed" of her actions and has resigned as a Labour whip, she will continue in her role as an MP.
"I will continue to represent the people of Canterbury, Whitstable and the villages as a Labour MP, working hard on all the issues that myself and my team have made positive action on over the past three years," she said.
"I do feel ashamed of my actions and bear that shame, but I hope people will give me the chance to show that I will work hard as always to be your voice in Parliament and a local champion that you can all be proud to call your MP."
It is understood that father-of-three Mr Routh has now moved in with Ms Duffield at her taxpayer-funded flat in London.
The revelations about Ms Duffield's breaches of the lockdown - exposed on Saturday night by the Mail on Sunday - come in the wake of calls for the Prime Minister's top aide, Dominic Cummings, to resign for travelling 260 miles to Durham during lockdown.