THE mayor of Britain’s first lockdown city spent several nights with his lover at the height of the pandemic — including one where he was photographed up a ladder at her home.
Leicester’s civic leader Sir Peter Soulsby, 71, was spoken to by police about the visits to Lesley Summerland, 64, in April and May. He is the latest public figure to have broken the rules, including ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson, housing secretary Robert Jenrick and prime minister Boris Johnson’s chief aide Dominic Cummings.
As the UK death toll rose by 155 to 43,730 yesterday, Sir Peter urged everyone in Leicester to obey the law. ‘My message is very clear,’ he said. ‘Stay strong, stay safe and stay home.’
But he faced calls for his resignation in a city with three times the infection rate of anywhere else. ‘He really should stand down,’ said North-West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen. ‘We are talking about admitted, repeated breaches of the lockdown rules.’
Ms Summerland’s neighbours say they saw ex-Labour MP Sir Peter repeatedly at her home in Groby. He denied he was there ‘three or four times a week’ and said he stayed away entirely for the first five weeks of lockdown.
He said he moved in briefly when she was ill at the end of April and returned for another four nights after fixing her window at the end of May.
‘Don’t be tempted to go help somebody in distress,’ Sir Peter said. ‘It may be seen as a reasonable excuse but it’s not a good example.’ He added: ‘I’ve taken the lessons and we’ve actually moved in together.’
Mr Cummings called an unprecedented Downing Street press conference on May 25 to explain why he drove his wife and four-year-old son 260 miles to his parents’ farm in Co. Durham. He later went on a 50-mile drive to ‘test his eyesight’.
Prof Ferguson resigned from the Sage advisory committee after lover Antonia Staats stayed at his home.
And Mr Jenrick, currently at the centre of claims over his relationship with billionaire Richard Desmond — former owner of The Daily Express and publisher of porn magazines such as Asian Babes and Big Ones — drove 40 miles to deliver ‘essentials’ to his parents’ home in Shropshire.