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Matt Hancock admits affair with Gina Coladangelo was 'damaging' to public confidence during pandemic
1 December 2023, 14:00
Matt Hancock has admitted that his affair with Gina Coladangelo was "damaging" to public confidence during the pandemic.
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The former health secretary was asked about his "transgression" during his second day answering questions at the Covid inquiry on Friday.
Mr Hancock stepped down from his government role in June 2021 after a clip emerged of him kissing Ms Coladangelo during a time of strict Covid rules.
CCTV footage showed him embracing the then aide at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
In his resignation announcement, Mr Hancock said he owed it to the public to "be honest when we have let them down as I have done".
Inquiry counsel Hugo Keith KC said: "I'm sure you acknowledge the incredible offence and upset that was caused by that revelation."
Mr Keith asked if Mr Hancock thought it impacted on the "public's propensity to adhere to rules".
"Well, what I'd say is that the lesson for the future is very clear," he said.
"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."
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."