Health secretary Matt Hancock has been accused of breaking his own Covid rules after a picture emerged allegedly showing him having an affair with a close friend and lobbyist who is a taxpayer-funded adviser for the government, according to a report.
The Sun claimed that Mr Hancock was caught on camera kissing Gina Coladangelo, with the newspaper publishing security pictures reportedly taken on 6 May.
It was revealed in November that Ms Coladangelo had been given a role as a non-executive director at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), despite there being no public record of the appointment.
On Friday morning, transport secretary Grant Shapps attempted to dismiss the allegations as a personal matter and said he would not comment on the claims.
It comes after a difficult few weeks for the health secretary following revelations that Boris Johnson called him “hopeless” during the first wave of the pandemic last year.
Labour urges Johnson to sack Hancock
Labour has urged the prime minister to fire Matt Hancock after details of his alleged affair transpired early this morning.
In a statement released this morning, Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s party chair, said: “If Matt Hancock has been secretly having a relationship with an adviser in his office – who he personally appointed to a taxpayer-funded role – it is a blatant abuse of power and a clear conflict of interest.
“The charge sheet against Matt Hancock includes wasting taxpayers’ money, leaving care homes exposed and now being accused of breaking his own Covid rules.
“His position is hopelessly untenable. Boris Johnson should sack him.”
We have confirmation now that Matt Hancock did not appear at a planned constituency event at Newmarket Racecourse this morning.
An organiser for the event told Sky News that his appearance was cancelled “early this morning” – no prizes for guessing why…
Opinion: ‘It should be over for Hancock – but Boris Johnson is in a tricky position’
Although Matt Hancock’s Cabinet career would be over in normal times, he may yet survive due to Boris Johnson’s history of infidelity allegations, according to our commentator Sean O’Grady.
The prime minister has faced his own questions over an alleged affair with Jennifer Arcuri, putting himself potentially at risk of accusations of hypocrisy if he takes action against Mr Hancock.
“Surely the prime minister should take action? The problem, of course, is that Boris Johnson himself has faced talk of an affair with Jennifer Arcuri when he was mayor of London.
“That makes it all the more difficult for Johnson to fire Hancock. Shameless as he is, it would make Johnson look ridiculously hypocritical, even by his own standards.”
You can find his full piece below:
Matt Hancock was expected to visit a Pharmacy2U vaccine site at Newmarket Racecourse as part of a constituency visit in Suffolk this morning, according to the PA news agency, but he appears to have dropped out following today’s events.
Pharmacy2U has administered over 500,000 vaccines so far at pop up sites across the UK.
The betting company Ladbrokes is offering 100/1 odds on Matt Hancock becoming a late addition to this year’s Love Island line-up following today’s allegations about his private life…
If you’ve been wondering how to pronounce Gina Coladangelo’s name, don’t ask BBC political correspondent Ben Wright, who was caught on camera struggling with the surname earlier this morning…
What were the Covid rules at the time of Hancock’s ‘embrace’
Matt Hancock’s alleged affair has raised questions over whether the health secretary broke the government’s coronavirus guidelines on social distancing last month.
Our reporter, Joe Middleton, has taken a look at what Covid rules were in place at the time of alleged incident:
Possible ‘conflict of interests’ from alleged affair must be looked at, Labour says
A possible “conflict of interests” occurring from the alleged relationship between Matt Hancock and his aide Gina Coladangelo must be looked at, a Labour shadow minister has said.
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon was asked by Sky News whether the government had questions to answer over the alleged affair, which a minister dismissed this morning as a personal matter.
Mr McMahon told Sky News: “It’s almost certainly a personal matter, the question is if there is anything about that relationship that might lead to a conflict of interests in a way frankly that we’ve seen with a number of government contracts during the course of the pandemic.
“If that is the case, then that of course needs to be looked into because that would be in public interest.”
You can find his comments in full below:
Our reporter, Adam Forrest, has more details below on Matt Hancock’s previous comments about Professor Neil Ferguson’s sex scandal:
Here’s a reminder of what the health secretary said about Professor Neil Ferguson, previously a government scientific adviser, when it was revealed that he had allowed a woman who was reportedly his lover to visit his home during the first Covid lockdown.
Professor Ferguson, who played a key role in the UK’s pandemic response, resigned over the matter following newspaper reports of the breach of lockdown rules.
In May 2020, Matt Hancock said:
“Professor Ferguson is a very eminent and impressive scientist and the science that he has done has been an important part of what we’ve listened to.
“I think he took the right decision to resign.”
“It’s a matter for the police, as a government minister I’m not allowed to get involved in the operational decisions of police matters.
“But I think the social distancing rules are very important and people should follow them.”
Obviously, the restrictions in May 2021 were much less tough than they were during the first lockdown but those comments make for awkward reading for the minister now…