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Matt Hancock Admits His Covid Rulebreaking Was Damaging To Public Confidence

A video revealed Matt Hancock breaking Covid rules by having an affair with Gina Coladangelo in 2021 (Alamy)

2 min read

Former health secretary Matt Hancock has admitted that his "transgression" – having an affair with his aide which broke social distancing rules – might have damaged public confidence and the likelihood of the wider population adhering to the rules themselves.

Hancock's affair, which led to his resignation due to breaking social distancing rules that were in place at the time, was brought up at the Covid Inquiry on Friday.

The former health secretary was asked whether "personal transgressions" had had a damaging impact upon the public's propensity to adhere to rules. 

"The lesson to the future is very clear, that 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 that," Hancock said.

Lawyer Hugo Keith KC then asked: "And to your credit, [your resignation] must have been in 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?"

Hancock responded: "Yes."

Hancock was also questioned on the disparities surrounding the virus, of which Hancock claimed he was "acutely aware" of as data began to emerge of the disproportionate impact on those from ethnic minority backgrounds, especially amongst the wider NHS workforce.

"This is something that I was worried about from early in the pandemic, in fact, I had worked on this before the pandemic, including raising the issues of discrimination within the NHS," he said.

Giving evidence to the Inquiry on Thursday, Hancock defended his record leading the Department for Health and Social Care during the pandemic arguing that he had been the one urging the government to take action against the virus sooner.

He attributed blame for some failings to "toxicity" at the centre of government, and suggested that former adviser Dominic Cummings had been a "malign influence" on government.

Responding to accusations, including from former Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance that Hancock had taken too much power for the DHSC in the early months of the pandemic, he claimed that he had felt that while other departments were stalling, it was up to the DHSC to step in.

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