Isabel Oakeshott terminates interview during heated clash about Hancock leaks

Isabel Oakeshott terminated an interview after she was questioned over the leak of Matt Hancock’s WhatsApp messages.

Ms Oakeshott, who is TalkTV’s international editor, hit the headlines in recent days over her decision to leak messages sent by Mr Hancock during his time as health secretary.

The messages have since revealed personal conversations between Mr Hancock and other officials throughout the pandemic, including after news broke of his affair with Gina Coladangelo, his subsequent resignation, and his pursuit to hit Covid testing targets.

On Friday, Ms Oakeshott got into a heated clash with Cathy Newman, who started the Times Radio interview by asking why she had shared the story with The Daily Telegraph rather than her TalkTV colleagues.

During the interview, Ms Newman asked whether it was fair for “producers and reporters on a fraction of your salary were having to kind of put up with your sloppy seconds and follow up on the story in a rival newspaper”, making reference to her alleged £250,000 salary.

Ms Oakeshott immediately fired back: “I’m just not going to go down this route Cathy.”

She added: “I think people are much more interested in what the investigation reveals.

“Most of our listeners won’t know the individuals that you’re referring to. I think that it’s kind of absurd that you should be quoting wild figures about my contract with any news organisation. That’s my business it’s not yours."

Ms Newman continued down this line of questioning, prompting Ms Oakeshott to repeatedly threaten to hang up. “I’m going to terminate the interview. This is my last warning, okay."

She then accused Ms Newman of being “unprofessional” and asked the Times radio journalist how much she was paid.

She added: “I haven’t come on here to justify where the story was placed or how I chose to go about that. I’ve come on here to talk about the story and the fact that you have started reeling out inaccurate figures about my contract or any working arrangement I have had – I think that is frankly unprofessional.”

The interview ended when Ms Oakeshott left halfway through a question about her journalistic ethics.

Last year Mr Hancock and Ms Oakeshott collaborated on a book, the Pandemic Diaries, drawing on WhatsApp messages between him and other ministers and officials. Yet within weeks, and despite her signing a non-disclosure agreement, she had passed a huge trove of messages to the Daily Telegraph.

She admitted she had not told Mr Hancock in advance, leaving him to find out only when her revelations appeared in the newspaper in midweek. In a statement yesterday Mr Hancock said: “I am hugely disappointed and sad at the massive betrayal and breach of trust.’ He said there was “absolutely no public interest case for this breach”.

Explaining the text he sent to the journalist - who called it “not a pleasant message” - he said: “When I saw what she’d done, I messaged to say it was "a big mistake". Nothing more.”

But Ms Oakeshott told TalkTV: “What a ridiculous defence. Saying there is no public interest in these revelations is patently absurd.”

Ms Oakeshott hit back at Ms Newman focusing on where the story was published rather than the WhatsApp messages themselves and hung up after just a few minutes, ending the interview without answering a single question.