Matt Hancock resigns as Health Secretary after being caught kissing close aide
Matt Hancock has resigned from his role as Health Secretary the day after video footage emerged of him kissing a close aide in his ministerial office.
Images and video footage obtained by The Sun showed Mr Hancock in an embrace with aide Gina Coladangelo last month in a breach of Covid-19 restrictions.
Mr Hancock, 42, has been married to his wife Martha for 15 years and the pair have three children. Mrs Coladangelo, 43, is married to Oliver Tress, founder of British retailer Oliver Bonas, and has three children.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had refused to sack Mr Hancock after the footage was revealed, with his spokesman saying he considered the matter closed after receiving the West Suffolk MP’s apology on Friday (25 June).
Downing Street has now confirmed that former Chancellor and Home Secretary Sajid Javid will replace Mr Hancock as Health Secretary.
Apology for breaking guidance
Mr Hancock’s three-year tenure as Health Secretary came to an end after stills of what appeared to be CCTV footage from inside his ministerial office were published of him kissing Mrs Coladangelo.
Legislation that was in place at the time said that “no person may participate in a gathering” that “consists of two or more people… and takes place indoors”.
The only exception to this rule was that the gathering was “reasonably necessary for work purposes or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services”.
Mr Hancock apologised for breaking social distancing rules and to his family and loved ones “for putting them through this”, and wrote to Mr Johnson on Saturday (25 June) stating he had let the people of the country down by breaching guidance.
He said: “The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis.
“I want to reiterate my apology for breaking the guidance, and apologise to my family and loved ones for putting them through this. I also need to be with my children at this time.
“We owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down as I have done by breaching the guidance.”
Mr Hancock paid tribute to NHS staff and DHSC officials and admitted that “we didn’t get every decision right”.
In a video posted on Twitter, he added: “I understand the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country has made, you have made. And those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I’ve got to resign.”
'Right to resign'
In response to his letter, the Prime Minister said he was proud of what Mr Hancock had achieved over the course of the pandemic.
He wrote: “You should leave office very proud of what you have achieved – not just in tackling the pandemic, but even before Covid-19 struck us.
“Above all, it has been your task to deal with a challenge greater than that faced by any of your predecessors, and in fighting Covid you have risen to that challenge – with the abundant energy, intelligence, and determination that are your hallmark.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Hancock was “right to resign”, but said it should have been the responsibility of the Prime Minister to sack him.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth expressed the same opinion, saying: “It is right that Matt Hancock has resigned. But why didn’t Boris Johnson have the guts to sack him and why did he say the matter was closed?
“Boris Johnson has demonstrated that he has none of the leadership qualities required of a Prime Minister.”
Liberal Democrats’ leader Sir Ed Davey added: “Matt Hancock’s legacy as Health Secretary will be one of cronyism and failure.
“And the fact that Boris Johnson thought Hancock could just carry on regardless brings the Prime Minister’s judgement into question once again.”