A senior Army commander was on Wednesday night under investigation over claims he broke lockdown to see his lover.
Married father-of-three Major General Rupert Jones, the son of a Falklands war hero, was in charge of the UK military’s response to the coronavirus pandemic abroad.
Maj Gen Jones, 51, has admitted having an affair with a married woman and has now left his wife of 23 years, Lucinda.
In command: Maj Gen Jones leads troops training in Iraq army in 2016
A defence source told the Daily Mail the affair itself was not thought to have breached any rules, but said the Army was investigating claims the officer had broken lockdown laws.
It is understood he will remain in his role while the investigation is carried out, and he has not been suspended.
Maj Gen Jones was previously Britain’s highest-ranking general in Iraq in the fight against the so-called Islamic State, and his father Colonel Herbert ‘H’ Jones was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his heroism.
On March 24 – the day after the lockdown was imposed – he used his official Twitter account to urge the British public to follow the Government’s restrictions.
He tweeted: ‘Stay at home and do magical things.’
Maj Gen Jones is Commander of the Standing Joint Force Command HQ, based in Northwood, Hertfordshire.
He led the military’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in British Overseas Territories including the Falklands and the Caribbean, known as Operation Broadshare.
A defence source told the Daily Mail that he had since told his senior officer, General Sir Patrick Sanders, who leads the UK’s Strategic Command, about the relationship.
Family: With wife Lucinda and his mother Sara after birth of son Henry
He has left his wife Lucinda, 47, and moved out of their £1.5million home in the West Country. The couple have three children, aged between 16 and 20.
His lover is understood to work outside the military and has left her husband to pursue the relationship. The source said: ‘His marriage has now broken down because he has met someone else and he has had an affair.
‘This is not a fling, this is the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with.
‘He has fallen in love with someone else.
‘He has been open and honest with his chain of command and Sir Patrick is content that in his professional conduct, he has done everything appropriately. But he is a senior officer and any officer of senior rank must set an example.
‘The Army is investigating whether in his personal life he broke any lockdown rules.’
Maj Gen Jones is the latest high-profile figure to be accused of flouting the lockdown measures, imposed to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Government adviser Professor Neil Ferguson, 51, who helped devise the lockdown, quit his role after inviting his married lover Antonia Staats, 38, for a tryst at his home in May. He admitted he had made an ‘error of judgment’.
MP Rosie Duffield, 48, quit as a Labour whip after she was caught having her married lover, TV director James Routh, visit her home in Kent.
And Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings faced a storm of criticism after it emerged he drove 260 miles from London to Durham during the lockdown, as he said he needed childcare help from family based there.
Maj Gen Jones works for Strategic Command but it is understood that the investigation into his conduct will be led by the Army, because it is about his private life rather than professional conduct.
Under Army rules, he must be investigated by someone at least one rank above him, meaning a general must lead the probe.
The source said: ‘This is a guy who has served all over the world and at no point has his professional conduct been called into question. This has not impaired his professional judgment and he has been honest with his superiors.’
Maj Gen Jones has an extraordinary military pedigree. He was only 13 when his Para commander father was killed storming an Argentine machine gun nest at Goose Green in the Falklands War.
He followed his father into the Devonshire & Dorset Regiment and became one of the Army’s youngest commanding officers when he took charge of the 4th Battalion, The Rifles, at the age of 38.
He has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland and was awarded an MBE for his role in drawing up Ministry of Defence plans to cope with potential national crises.
He was Britain’s most senior general in Iraq in 2016 and 2017 as part of the US-led campaign against IS, and then took over the Army’s top job at the MoD, assistant chief of the general staff.
An Army spokesman said: ‘We are investigating the facts of this matter, and while we do so it would not be right to comment further.’
Colonel H, hero who fell storming Argentine machine guns
David Wilkes for the Daily Mail
Heroic Colonel ‘H’ Jones was killed storming an Argentine machine gun nest during a daring raid in the Falklands conflict.
His son Rupert Jones, who was educated at Eton and Sandhurst like him, was only 13 and playing croquet in the garden with older brother David during half-term when their mother Sara was told the awful news.
Throughout his military career, H – short for Herbert, which he hated – gained a reputation as an ‘action man’ who led from the front and who believed that setting an example was the best way to lead men.
Bravery: VC winner Colonel H Jones
He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his heroic action while commanding 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment as they attacked Argentine invaders’ positions around the settlements of Darwin and Goose Green on May 28, 1982. He was aged 42.
The citation for his VC tells how the Battalion was held up just south of Darwin by ‘a particularly well-prepared and resilient enemy position of at least eleven trenches on an important ridge’.
It says it was clear to Lieutenant Colonel Jones ‘that desperate measures were needed in order to overcome the enemy position and rekindle the attack, and that unless these measures were taken promptly the Battalion would sustain increasing casualties and the attack perhaps even fail’.
It tells how he ‘immediately seized a sub-machine gun, and, calling on those around him and with total disregard for his own safety, charged the nearest enemy position. This action exposed him to fire from a number of trenches. As he charged up a short slope at the enemy position he was seen to fall and roll backward downhill.
‘He immediately picked himself up, and again charged the enemy trench, firing his sub-machine gun and seemingly oblivious to the intense fire directed at him.
‘He was hit by fire from another trench which he outflanked, and fell dying only a few feet from the enemy he had assaulted. A short time later a company of the Battalion attacked the enemy, who quickly surrendered. The display of courage by Colonel Jones had completely undermined their will to fight further.
‘This was an action of the utmost gallantry by a Commanding Officer whose dashing leadership and courage throughout the battle were an inspiration to all about him.’
Major General Jones’ mother and Colonel H’s widow, Sara, was awarded the CBE in 1995 for campaigning for service charities.
When Major General Jones was awarded an MBE in 2002, he chose – from one of three investiture dates offered – the 20th anniversary of his father’s death. He was honoured for his role in drawing up MoD plans to cope with potential crises caused by the Millennium changeover, the solar eclipse and the petrol blockade.
Referring to his choice of date to receive his medal from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace, Major General Jones said: ‘I know H would be very proud and I thought it would be a good way of marking the occasion.’
He added: ‘He was the most amazing father a son could ever ask for. He always had time for David and I. He played with us and treated us like grown-ups.
‘My father was somebody very special. I’m not sure I have anything more special than the next man, but he did. He was a man apart.’