UK

Matt Hancock acknowledges his affair with aide damaged public confidence

Former health secretary Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo (Lucy North/PA)
Former health secretary Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo (Lucy North/PA) Former health secretary Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo (Lucy North/PA)

Matt Hancock has acknowledged that his affair with Gina Coladangelo damaged public confidence in Covid rules.

The former health secretary was asked briefly about his “transgression” during his appearance at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry on Friday morning.

Mr Hancock resigned as health secretary in June 2021 after footage emerged of him kissing his aide during a time of strict Covid rules.

Inquiry counsel Hugo Keith KC said to Mr Hancock: “I’m sure you acknowledge the incredible offence and upset that was caused by that revelation.”

Covid-19 pandemic inquiry
Covid-19 pandemic inquiry Former health secretary Matt Hancock was giving evidence to the inquiry (UK Covid-19 Inquiry/PA)

Mr Keith asked Mr Hancock if he thought it impacted on 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.”

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 former health secretary was pictured in CCTV footage embracing Ms Coladangelo, then an aide at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

In announcing his resignation, Mr Hancock said he owed it to the public to “be honest when we have let them down as I have done”.

At the time of the footage, the country was in the middle of Step 2 of the lockdown roadmap which meant that non-essential shops were open but hospitality businesses were closed.

Social distancing was still in force and people could not socialise indoors with anyone not in their household or support bubble.

The guidance provided by the government for workplace offices at the time said: “You should maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible.”