Matt Hancock's 41-hour fight to save his career: Former health secretary asked 'how bad are the pics?' after affair leak

4 March 2023, 00:57 | Updated: 4 March 2023, 08:12

Gina Coladangelo and Matt Hancock
Gina Coladangelo and Matt Hancock. Picture: Getty

By Chris Samuel

New leaked messages reveal Matt Hancock scrambled to save his political career after pictures emerged of his intimate embrace with aide Gina Coladangelo during his time as Health Secretary.

They are among the latest tranche of WhatsApp correspondence to be published by The Telegraph from the leak of over 100,000 messages by journalist Isabel Oakeshott to the paper.

The messages centre on the hours after the former Cabinet minister found out that leaked pictures, and later a video, showing him in a romantic embrace which breached social distancing rules would appear on the front page of The Sun in June 2021.

He stepped down as Health Secretary shortly afterwards.

The messages show Mr Hancock discussing the Covid guidance in place at the time and deciding what his initial response to questions from the media should be.

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As he awaits publication, he asks a special adviser: "How bad are the pics?"

The adviser then said: "It's a snog and heavy petting", to which Mr Hancock replied: "How the f*** did anyone photograph that?"

Matt Hancock led the UK's the country's Covid reponse at the height of the pandemic
Matt Hancock led the UK's the country's Covid reponse at the height of the pandemic. Picture: Alamy

The messages also show the reaction of Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo after news breaks that The Sun had video of the embrace.

"OMFG", Ms Coladangelo said.

Mr Hancock replies: "Crikey. Not sure there's much news value in that and I can't say it's very enjoyable viewing."

The leaked correspondence also shows Mr Hancock and his advisers discussing among themselves and liaising with Number 10 about how to respond to the story, amid the political storm.

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Mr Hancock's spokesperson told the BBC that there was "nothing new" in the messages and there was "absolutely no public interest" in publishing them.

He added: "It's highly intrusive, completely inappropriate and has all been discussed endlessly before," he added.

The spokesperson said the official Covid inquiry had been given access to all the messages.

LBC has not seen or independently verified the messages nor the context in which they were sent.

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