Hancock accused of trying to 'cash in on tragedy' with £100k Covid book deal

13 November 2021, 18:41

Matt Hancock has been "approached" about a Covid book deal.
Matt Hancock has been "approached" about a Covid book deal. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The families of coronavirus victims have accused Matt Hancock of trying to "cash in" on Covid after it was revealed he is considering a £100,000 book deal.

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The former health secretary has been "approached" about writing a book on his experience of being in Government during the pandemic.

A spokeswoman for Mr Hancock, who resigned in June after admitting to breaking Covid restrictions after leaked CCTV footage showed him kissing an aide, said there has been "no deal".

"Matt has been approached to write a book about his experiences in the pandemic, but no decisions have been made," she said.

"The people who were heroic during the pandemic were the NHS staff who worked round the clock to save lives."

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It comes after the Daily Mail reported that the former Cabinet minister was in line to sign a £100,000 book deal with publisher HarperCollins.

According to the newspaper, the book offer is designed to allow the Conservative MP for West Suffolk to tell his version of events of what went on inside Government as the pandemic struck, and the subsequent search for and rollout of the vaccines.

The report has sparked anger, however, with the families of coronavirus victims accusing Mr Hancock of trying to "cash in" on the tragedy.

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK said any memoir by Mr Hancock would "inevitably cause pain and hurt" for those mourning people who died after contracting the virus, and urged a rethink by the potential publisher.

The group posted on social media: "You'd think the health secretary who presided over one of the worst death tolls in the world would have some humility or seek to reflect on the many lives lost, rather than try and cash in on the tragedy.

"We'd urge HarperCollins to reconsider paying for a story that will inevitably cause pain and hurt for those of us who have lost loved ones.

"Families have a right to hear about the decisions that have changed their lives forever in an inquiry, not a tell-all memoir."

Labour has also called for the Cabinet Office to "block" its publication, which could come out before a public inquiry, due to commence next year, into ministers' handling of Covid.

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Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour party, said on Twitter: "It is absolutely disgusting that Matt Hancock gets to put his spin on events - and his failures - for a bumper pay day before bereaved families get the truth about the government's failures and mishandling of the pandemic in a public inquiry."

In a separate statement, a Labour spokesman said: "The Cabinet Office should block the publication of this tasteless cashing in on tragedy."

Mr Hancock's time as health secretary was cut short five months ago after leaked footage emerged of him kissing Gina Colangelo, in breach of social distancing rules that he had helped establish.

HarperCollins has been approached for comment.