Matt Hancock has found himself at the centre of a number of controversies during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. And that was even before the allegations about his extramarital affair emerged.
Pictures were published on Friday 25 June of the health secretary engaged in a passionate kiss with his aide Gina Coladangelo. The image is dated 6 May and appears to be taken from CCTV footage from inside the Department of Health and Social Care.
Hancock has since apologised for breaking social distancing restrictions. The prime minister, according to No 10, considers the matter “closed” and won’t be taking any action against Hancock.
Here is a timeline of other occasions in the past 15 months when the Cabinet minister has found himself in hot water.
– 28 May 2020
Hancock appeared on Sky News and laughed out loud at criticism of the government’s delivery of Test and Trace. This happened on the same day that the UK was confirmed to have the worst coronavirus death rate in the world.
At the time, with the confirmed UK death toll from coronavirus having exceeded 37,000, many Twitter users agreed that the issue wasn’t a laughing matter. The UK’s Test and Trace programme would, of course, go on to be internationally recognised as a resounding failure.
– 17 June 2020
The Health Secretary apologised for a “human mistake” after he slapped a colleague on the back in the House of Commons. This was despite social distancing measures still being in place to curb the spread of coronavirus.
– 11 October 2020
Hancock was forced to deny claims that he broke the government’s coronavirus drinking curfew. It came after reports claimed he stayed drinking in a Commons bar beyond 10pm.
– 19 February 2021
The High Court found that the government unlawfully failed to publish details of billions of pounds worth of coronavirus-related contracts.
Justice Chamberlain ruled that Hancock had “breached his legal obligation to publish contract award notices within 30 days of the award of contracts” after spending “vast quantities of public money” on procurement in 2020.
Hancock did not apologise following the ruling.
– 23 February 2021
Labour accused Hancock of insulting health professionals after he claimed there was “never” a national shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the early days of the pandemic.
The Royal College of Nursing said that in March 2020, some nurses were sent to treat patients on coronavirus wards with “no protection at all”.
– 6 May 2021
Hancock reportedly brings his personal affairs to work. He’s recorded kissing his aide on CCTV at the Department of Health headquarters.
– 26 May 2021
Boris Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings made a lengthy appearance in front of the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees. He alleged in this testimony that the health secretary had lied to the prime minister over a promise to test new arrivals into care homes at the outset of the pandemic.
Cummings said he recommended to Johnson on a host of occasions that Hancock should be sacked due to his handling of the crisis.
The senior minister denied the care home allegations. But he admitted that there were not enough tests available in spring 2020 to test everyone entering residential homes.
– 28 May 2021
The health secretary was ruled to have committed a “minor” but undeliberate breach of the ministerial code. This was when he failed to declare that a family firm in which he held shares won an NHS contract. The discovery was made following a probe by the prime minister’s ethics adviser.
Independent adviser on ministerial standards lord Christopher Geidt found that Hancock should have declared that Topwood Limited was approved as an NHS contractor. The firm is owned by Hancock’s sister, and Hancock has 20% shares in it.
Geidt did not recommend that Hancock resign.
– 8 June 2021
Hancock denied that PPE shortages caused any coronavirus deaths among healthcare staff during the pandemic.
He told two select committees of MPs that 1,500 NHS staff had died of coronavirus but denied that lack of PPE was to blame.This despite evidence of staff using ‘bin bags’ in the absence of PPE.
Shortly after, Hancock came under fire from opposition politicians and medical professionals. General secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing Pat Cullen slammed the claim as inflammatory and “deeply insulting”. She said it went against information from several other bodies.
– 16 June 2021
Cummings, who left No 10 last year in a power struggle, published apparent correspondence between him and Johnson in which the PM appeared to call Hancock “totally fucking useless”.
Hancock called Johnson’s jibe “ancient history” when asked about the reported comments.
– 25 June 2021
The Sun exposed Hancock’s alleged affair with Coladangelo. It’s since emerged that Coldangelo’s relative, an executive at a private healthcare corporation, was awarded several NHS contracts.
With Johnson having put the matter to rest, it’s unlikely Hancock will face any consequences for his actions. How many more fuck-ups we can expect from him is therefore anyone’s guess.
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