Covid vaccine firm finance boss ‘drove 230 miles to second home as lockdown loomed’


A boss at a Staffordshire company involved in manufacturing the coronavirus vaccine is alleged to have driven more than 200 miles to his second home on the day new lockdown restrictions were announced.

Lee Warren, the finance director of Keele -based Cobra Biologics, is said to have been reported to police by villagers in Rothbury, Northumberland, after apparently travelling there from his North Staffordshire home on January 4.

It is understood the 37-year-old – who has previously worked at Phones4u, Britannia Building Society and Baker Tilly – made the 230 mile trip with his wife and child just as people in England were being told they must lock down again to try to slow rocketing coronavirus infection rates.

Northumbria Police confirmed they had investigated an alleged breach of the restrictions, but following a review decided to take no further action.

But a family was told to return to leave the village and return home.

Lee Warren, finance chief at Cobra Biologics

A spokesman for the force said: “We can confirm we received a report of a possible breach of coronavirus legislation regarding a family who had travelled to stay at an address in Rothbury.

“We visited the premises and spoke to the occupants and requested they return to their primary address, which they complied with.

“Those involved were reported for breaches of legislation, and as is our standard practice for all enforcement this was reviewed, where it was determined no further action would be pursued.

“We would urge everyone to follow the legislation and guidance which is in place to help protect us all from Covid-19.”

Cobra Biologics declined to comment about the allegations.

But according to comments left on Facebook by a resident of the Rothbury area who appeared to be defending Mr Warren, “The family live some miles away but also have a home and relatives here. He is a key worker in the production of the covid vaccine and now has to work from home. Their broadband strength is appalling .. 10 percent the strength we enjoy in Rothbury.

“Hence their journey to their home here – just before lockdown.”

The man described the people who alerted the police as “idiots”.

Cobra Biologics is part of a consortium of organisations involved in the manufacture of the Oxford/Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine which is currently being rolled-out across the UK as part of a major vaccination programme.

The new national lockdown measures state that people should not leave or be outside of their homes without a “reasonable excuse”.
A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes for work ‘where it is unreasonable for you to do your job at home.’

Anyone found to be in breach of the restrictions can be hit with a £200 fine for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.





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