The head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has apologised after she breached Covid rules by travelling to her second home for Christmas.

Rebecca Hilsenrath was told to leave the property by police in Wales on Christmas Day and return to her million pound home in Elstree, reports the national Times newspaper.

The Times said locals in the village of Llanegryn had notified police that Mrs Hilsenrath and her husband were staying at the second home, and officers were sent to her address.

Mrs Hilsenrath, who co-founded Yavneh College in Borehamwood and Hertsmere Jewish Primary School in Radlett, claimed she did not know she had broken the rules in Wales.

In a statement seen by the Times, Mrs Hilsenrath, who joined the EHRC in 2014, said: "I would like to apologise to the local community, where we feel deeply embedded, if I have caused anyone concern or worry at this difficult time.

"I travelled to our home in Wales before lockdown in the belief it was allowed under the rules at that time.

"We did not realise that lockdown necessitated or even permitted our departure and after a short and helpful conversation with the local police we agreed at once to leave on Christmas Day and did so without the need for further reminders."

The lawyer, who was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Education by the University of Hertfordshire in September 2019 for her outstanding contribution to the legal profession and human rights, is believed to have travelled to Wales on December 18, when Elstree, where she lives, was already in Tier 3 restrictions.

Due to rising Covid infection rates, Health Secretary Matt Hancock plunged Hertsmere - which includes Elstree - Watford and the districts of Three Rivers and Broxbourne, into an emergency Tier 3 from December 16, with the rest of Hertfordshire following on December 19.

The government recommended at the time those in Tier 3 - or 'very high alert' areas - should stay in their own area, and restrict all possible travel.

But on December 4, the Welsh government made nearly all travel between Wales and Tier 3 areas of England illegal.

The guidance read: "Travel in to Wales is not allowed without a reasonable excuse, for example travelling for work purposes.

"Visiting family and friends (other than as part of an extended household) or having a holiday is not currently considered a reasonable excuse, although we hope to be able to welcome you in the not too distant future."

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, chairwoman of the EHRC and a cross-bench member of the House of Lords, said: “I have been made aware that Rebecca travelled from her home in Hertfordshire to her second home in Wales.

“She has apologised for this error of judgment. I will establish all the facts before deciding if any further action is required.”