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Hancock: 'I'm very sorry, I broke social distancing rules' over pictures of kiss with aide
25 June 2021, 12:26 | Updated: 25 June 2021, 23:38
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted he broke social distancing guidelines but defied calls to step down after pictures emerged of him kissing a senior aide.
Mr Hancock issued a statement today: “I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances.
"I have let people down and am very sorry. I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family."
Mr Hancock was pictured in his Whitehall Office kissing married aide Gina Coladangelo in his Whitehall Office on May 6.
Mr Hancock, 42, and lobbyist Ms Coladangelo, wife of the founder of Oliver Bonas, were caught on camera in an embrace at his office last month in pictures obtained by The Sun.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tells LBC he has seen a photo of Matt Hancock embracing a colleague but says ”I’m quite sure that whatever the rules were at the time - they were followed."@NickFerrariLBC pic.twitter.com/5gqach00NZ— LBC (@LBC) June 25, 2021
He cancelled a public appearance at a vaccine centre today amid a growing storm after the pictures emerged. Downing Street has not commented on the photos.
He was seen kissing Gina, a close friend from their time together at university, at the Department of Health’s London HQ during office hours, the newspaper reported.
Mr Hancock has been married to Martha Hoyer Millar for 15 years and the couple have three children together.
Labour called for Mr Hancock to be sacked. Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour Party chair, said: "If Matt Hancock has been secretly having a relationship with an adviser in his office - who he personally appointed to a taxpayer-funded role - it is a blatant abuse of power and a clear conflict of interest.
"The charge sheet against Matt Hancock includes wasting taxpayers’ money, leaving care homes exposed and now being accused of breaking his own Covid rules. "His position is hopelessly untenable. Boris Johnson should sack him."
The Lib Dems also said Mr Hancock "should have been sacked a long time ago for his failures."
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told LBC this morning: "I have seen the photo but, as ever with private matters, I always try to avoid commenting on other people's personal lives and I think I'll stick with that tradition here."
Asked whether the Health Secretary should have been "ignoring social distancing", Mr Shapps replied: "I'm quite sure that whatever the rules were at the time were followed.
"You'll recall that there was a point at which social distancing rules were changed but, as I say, I don't want to comment on somebody else's private life - that is for them."
Yesterday video was released of the Queen referring to Health Secretary Matt Hancock as "poor man" at a meeting with Boris Johnson.
"I've just been talking to your secretary of state for health, poor man. He came for Privy Council," she told the prime minister.
"He's full of...", she added. "Full of beans?", offered Mr Johnson.
The Queen then told the prime minister that the health secretary "thinks things are getting better," in remarks caught on microphone.
Last week Mr Johnson's former aide Dominic Cummings revealed the PM had described Mr Hancock as "f***ing hopeless" in an exchange on WhatsApp.
A screenshot leaked by Mr Cummings showed Mr Johnson using the expletive in a response to Mr Hancock's performance as Health Secretary on "testing, procurement, PPE, care homes etc."