Boss at vaccine firm drove 250 miles 'in search of better wi-fi'

Finance boss at Oxford Covid vaccine firm is spoken to by police after driving 250 miles to his second home ‘in search of better wi-fi signal’

  • Lee Warren travelled from Staffordshire to Rothbury, Northumberland last week
  • He travelled with family on January 4, the same day lockdown was announced
  • Three days later police ordered Mr Warren to return to his main home in Stoke  
  • He was reported for a breach of regulations, but police say it has been dropped  

The finance boss at an Oxford Covid vaccine firm who drove 250 miles to his second home ‘in search of better wi-fi’ has been spoken to by police.

Lee Warren, finance director at AstraZeneca vaccine manufacturer Cobra Biologics, travelled from his home in Stoke-on-Trent to Rothbury in Northumberland last Monday – the same day Boris Johnson announced a third national lockdown. 

He spent three nights at his second home before complaints from angry locals prompted police to arrive and order the family to return home.  

Both Staffordshire and Northumberland were in Tier 4 prior to the national lockdown – with Government guidance stating: ‘You must not leave a Tier 4 area or stay overnight away from home.’ 

Mr Warren, 37, was reported to police on January 7 and referred for a breach of coronavirus regulations, but police say ‘no further action will be pursued’.

Lee Warren, finance director at Covid vaccine manufacturer Cobra Biologics, was told to return home by police after travelling from Stoke-on-Trent to Rothbury in Northumberland in search of better broadband last Monday

Soon after Mr Warren was asked to leave, a post appeared on Facebook in defence of his decision to travel.

The post, which has since been deleted, claimed they had travelled to get better internet signal while working from home.

It read: ‘The family live some miles away but also have a home and relatives here.

‘He is a key worker in production of the covid vaccine and now has to work from home during the pandemic.

‘Their broadband strength is nothing short of appalling.

Both Stoke-on-Trent and Rothbury were under Tier 4 measures when Mr Warren made the trip last Monday. Police received a report from angry neighbours on January 7 and he was asked to leave. 

‘As a result he is unable to carry out his work and video conferencing involved and nor can their child entertain online schooling, hence their journey.’

The post also referred to the people who had reported Mr Warren as ‘idiots’ and received a backlash from the local community.

One social media user replied: ‘These idiots you talk about are looking out for their family and the community.

‘God forbid they haven’t brought anything into the village or your post is going to make you look like the idiot.’

Another added: ‘Poor broadband signal does not constitute breaking the law.’

A spokesperson for Cobra Biologics said the firm did not wish to comment.

Northumbria Police issued a statement which read: ‘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.

A Facebook post branded locals ‘idiots’ for reporting Mr Warren’s journey. The 37-year-old is finance director at Cobra Biologics, which is responsible for manufacturing the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (pictured) 

‘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.’

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