I'm a Celebrity's Matt Hancock called out over COVID by campmates

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I'm a Celeb's Matt Hancock called out over COVIDITV/Shutterstock - ITV

I'm a Celebrity spoilers follow.

I'm a Celebrity's Matt Hancock has been confronted by campmates on breaking his own COVID-19 guidelines at the height of the pandemic.

The former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care had been at the centre of controversy before he even officially arrived in the jungle, as many questioned whether it was right to have him on the show.

At the heart of the criticism has been Matt resigning after breaking his own COVID-19 social distancing guidance in 2021, when tabloids published photos of him embracing colleague Gina Coladangelo while both were married to other people.

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Matt apologised for his actions and resigned from then-PM Boris Johnson's cabinet, but has distinguished between breaking government guidance and breaking the law.

His defence has rested on the fact that the government's social distancing policy for the workplace was not a legal requirement, and while he faced no criminal charges, Hancock was sent to the back benches of Parliament at the time.

Friday's edition of the ITV reality show featured Matt taking part in an eating trial with Boy George, where they won the full amount of 11 stars for camp.

When they returned to their campmates, talk turned to Hancock's rule break and he faced some intense questioning from his fellow campers.

i'm a celebrity, matt hancock, charlene white
ITV/Shutterstock - ITV

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Jill Scott quipped that the Bushtucker trial might be "practice" for Hancock's "big trial", referring to an inquiry into the government's handling of the COVID-19 crisis and allegations of breaches in policy.

Matt clarified to the campers he hadn't received a "lockdown fine" for his discretions, but Charlene White directly called him out: "You were socialising with someone outside of your household."

The politician argued that he didn't break any laws because "guidance is different", but Scarlette Douglas fired back: "So there’s a rule and there’s a law."

When Matt acknowledged that he'd broken his own guidance, Scarlette asked why he'd taken such a step in light of the seriousness of the situation.

i’m a celebrity airs tension between boy george and charlene
ITV/Shutterstock - ITV

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"Because it was a mistake, because I fell in love with somebody," he answered.

Matt padded that he publicly apologised, but Scarlette pointed out the contradiction: "It’s that kind of, you just do it and then afterwards it’s like, ‘Oh I’m sorry, I’m sorry'."

The former Health Secretary admitted what he'd done was "bigger than that", before Charlene shared how she'd been personally impacted by the guidance he's admitted to breaking.

"It’s massively bigger than that. My aunt died from Covid in the first wave," she said. "So, we couldn’t go to the hospital to go and visit her. I had to sit by myself in the church at her funeral. We couldn’t hug each other because we were following guidance.

"And I get that you fell in love, I understand all of those things, but 'sorry' for a lot of families like mine doesn’t really cut it."

"That’s one of the reasons that I regret it as much as I do," Matt replied.

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Matt went on to say he's "much, much more robust" in his defence of the government's overall handling of the pandemic, even after Charlene reminded him of the PPE controversy.

After the discussion had broken up, Matt privately confessed to Charlene: "Do you know what it is actually, what I’m really looking for is a bit of forgiveness, that’s what I’m really looking for.”

The two shared a hug, which Charlene later admitted in the Bush Telegraph came as a big surprise to her. However, Chris Moyles told Scarlette that he was reluctant to accept Matt's explanation.

"It was the last thing he said, ‘I think I’m here for forgiveness’. Then, I wanted to go, ‘Forgiveness for what Matt? What are you sorry for? Are you sorry for being caught? Are you sorry for having an affair? Are you sorry for making bad decisions? Are you sorry for lying? What? What?’

"If you’re going to be real, be real. I’m trying to be as real as I can and when I think he’s not being real it’s bugging me and I don’t know why. We’ve all made mistakes and you put your hands up and you’re honest. If you’re at that point where you genuinely feel that bad, you go, I’m sorry and you take it, I’m sorry.”

Chris added: “He’s trying to portray that he’s being totally honest and it’s eating away at me.”

The DJ acknowledged that it's "a real struggle" for him to work with Matt given his personal objections to the man's political career.

Hancock's involvement with I'm a Celebrity continues to raise questions, as he has had his party whip suspended by the Tories for leaving his constituency to take part in the show.

His appearance on the series has also been opposed by the group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, as they suggested it could cause "real pain and anguish" for those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic.

I'm a Celebrity airs at 9pm on ITV and ITV Hub.

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