Portsmouth-born author Neil Gaiman criticised for travelling across the world during coronavirus lockdown

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Portsmouth-born writer Neil Gaiman has been criticised after he admitted travelling more than 11,000 miles from New Zealand to his house on Skye in breach of Scotland's lockdown rules.

Writing on his blog, the American Gods and Good Omens author said he travelled to Scotland so he could ‘isolate easily’ after he and his wife Amanda agreed they ‘needed to give each other some space’.

He described how he flew ‘masked and gloved’ from Auckland Airport to Los Angeles (LAX) and then on to London before borrowing a friend’s car and driving north to Skye.

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Only essential journeys are permitted under lockdown rules in Scotland, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stressing the message north of the border is ‘stay at home’.

Neil GaimanNeil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who is also the MP for Skye, said: ‘Can I just remind anyone else thinking of coming to the Highlands this is against the regulations.

‘To come from the other end of the planet is gobsmacking. We will welcome all to the Highlands when it is safe to do so. For now stay away.’

In a post on his blog on Thursday, science fiction and fantasy author Gaiman wrote: ‘Hullo from Scotland, where I am in rural lockdown on my own.’

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He said he was in New Zealand with his wife and son Ash until two weeks ago, when the country went from level four of lockdown - which it had been on for the previous five weeks - to level three.

Gaiman grew up in Portchester, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane on Southsea seafront is named after one of his books.

He wrote: ‘I flew, masked and gloved, from empty Auckland Airport to LAX, an empty international terminal with only one check-in counter open - the one for the BA flight from LAX to London.

‘Both flights were surreal, especially the flight to London. Empty airports, mostly empty planes. It reminded me of flying a week after 9/11: everything's changed.

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‘I landed in London about 10 in the morning, got a masked car service to a friend's house. He had a spare car (bought many years ago as a birthday present for his daughter, but she had never learned to drive), with some groceries for me in a box in the back, waiting in the drive, with the key in the lock.

‘I drove north, on empty motorways and then on empty roads, and got in about midnight, and I've been here ever since.’

He said his family are looking forward to being together again once the world opens up and travel gets easier, and that ‘Amanda and I are still very much together, even with half a world between us’.

But Gaiman has been criticised on social media for making the journey.

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One person wrote: ‘It is still lockdown here in Scotland... would love to be able to visit my family and friends... but can't and won't. Sorry but this is not on.’

Another person wrote: ‘Whilst I appreciate you're going through relationships drama, I would have hoped that your common sense wouldn't have eluded you. Scotland is in lockdown, no unnecessary travel.’

Gaiman responded: ‘I'm currently a UK taxpayer and on the Scottish voting rolls. I went home.’