Exclusive: Camera ‘switched to catch Matt Hancock’

·3-min read
An internal investigation is seeking to discover if the camera was moved accidentally (REUTERS)
An internal investigation is seeking to discover if the camera was moved accidentally (REUTERS)

The CCTV camera that ended Matt Hancock’s career was deliberately tampered with to “stitch up” the former Health Secretary, senior Whitehall insiders believe.

The camera was originally installed to point towards a glass door and balcony with sweeping views outside his ministerial office, which was considered a security weak point. But somebody turned it around so that it pointed instead to the internal doorway where Mr Hancock was caught kissing and fondling his aide Gina Coladangelo.

An internal investigation is seeking to discover if the camera was moved accidentally during renovations or whether it was repositioned by the leaker to spy on the couple. Insiders are convinced that it was done deliberately.

“We all think Matt Hancock was really stitched up on this,” a senior source told the Standard.

The Department for Health and Social Care declined to comment. A spokesman said: “DHSC continues to review its internal security processes.” The Standard has been told that private contractors, rather than police or the Government’s own officials were hired to monitor the camera. The department did not comment.

Matt Hancock’s former office
Matt Hancock’s former office

Mr Hancock resigned in disgrace on Saturday, admitting that he had flouted the “no hugging” social-distancing rules that were in force at the time of his clinch with his married aide. They are said to be looking to set up a home together.

His attempt to survive the crisis without resigning from the Cabinet lasted 36 hours before he was forced to fall on his sword by what one Cabinet minister called a “groundswell” of calls for his head. Some 80 Conservative MPs were said to have pressed for his removal, while members of the public, who had been unable to hold the hands of dying loved ones, spoke of their anger about the minister’s rule-breaking.

Now it has emerged that Mr Hancock’s constituency Conservative association is deeply divided in the wake of his decision to leave his wife of 15 years, Martha, who is a popular figure. One source said Mr Hancock had been reduced to “only one supporter” among the local grandees who form the core of his constituency organisation because of sympathy for Mrs Hancock, who has three children with him.

He is said to have delegated much of the work of networking with local worthies to his wife as he became busier with his Cabinet career and, in the past 18 months, fighting the Covid pandemic.

The Standard called senior members of the West Suffolk Conservatives but was directed to the group’s main email address for a statement — although nothing was forthcoming. Key members do not appear to have spoken about the scandal on their social media pages.

Mrs Hancock attended a local book club on Wednesday evening, still not knowing about her husband’s affair. She only found out when he told her on Thursday night that The Sun had obtained the CCTV footage.

Mr Hancock has been MP for West Suffolk, where he has a large majority of 23,194, since 2010. Some senior ministers are convinced that Mr Hancock, who has been praised by the Prime Minister as a hard worker, will bounce back to Cabinet rank.

In the Commons on Monday, Labour MPs mocked him for not knowing there was a CCTV camera in his own office. MI5 is expected to discuss with the Cabinet Office this week whether it should investigate the leaked footage.

New Health Secretary Sajid Javid suggested there was “more” to come out when he told reporters: “I haven’t disabled the camera but it has been disabled by the department. I don’t think there should be a camera as a general rule in a secretary of state’s office. There has never been one in the other departments I have run and I have no idea why there was one here — I’m sure there’ll be more as the whole incident is investigated.”

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