news: Matt Hancock is let off lightly over his Covid rule-breaking affair with Gina Coladangelo as he appears at official inquiry – but fails to apologise after he was caught on CCTV kissing her in his office
Matt Hancock today described quitting after being caught kissing an aide on CCTV as a ‘lesson for the future’ – but stopped short of repeating his apology.
The ex-health secretary’s flouting of Covid guidelines and resignation in June 2021 was brought up during the second day of his evidence to the official inquiry.
Mr Hancock apologised when the CCTV images of his clinch with Gina Coladangelo emerged, but initially tried to cling on before standing down from Cabinet.
Inquiry counsel Hugo Keith noted this morning that Mr Hancock had observed that the rules were important when Professor Neil Ferguson had been caught breaching them previously.
Turning to Mr Hancock’s own scandal, the KC said: ‘I’m sure you acknowledge the incredible offence and upset that was caused by that revelation.’
Asked by Mr Keith whether such episodes impacted the ‘public’s propensity to adhere to rules’, Mr Hancock replied: ‘Well, what I’d say is that the lesson for the future is very clear.
‘And it is important that those who make the rules abide by them, and I resigned in order to take accountability for my failure to do.’
Matt Hancock’s flouting of Covid guidelines and resignation in June 2021 was brought up during the second day of his evidence to the official inquiry
The politician split from his wife after the affair was revealed, and is now in a relationship with Ms Coladangelo (pictured together after he was evicted from ITV ‘s I’m A Celebrity)
Mr Keith said the resignation ‘must have been a reflection of the fact that you understood the importance of, or the deleterious consequences of, rule-breaking or guidance-breaking on public confidence in the public at large’.
Mr Hancock replied: ‘Yes.’
The politician split from his wife after the affair was revealed, and is now in a relationship with Ms Coladangelo.
He sits as an independent MP in the Commons after losing the party whip for appearing on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity reality TV show.
During his second day of evidence, the Covid Inquiry heard extraordinary details of Cabinet squabbling about how to handle a surge in cases in Autumn 2020.
Messages between the former health secretary and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case included a reference to Rishi Sunak thinking it was ‘better’ to introduce curbs in secondary schools, because there was no proof that non-essential retail boosted transmission.
The exchanges from October 2020 emerged as Mr Hancock told the inquiry that if restrictions had been tougher that Autumn with new variants circulating, the full lockdown including schools in January 2021 might have been avoided.
Hugo Keith KC told Mr Hancock: ‘I’m sure you acknowledge the incredible offence and upset that was caused by that revelation.’
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