Timeline of the Health Secretary’s coronavirus pandemic controversies

·3-min read

Matt Hancock has found himself at the centre of a number of controversies during the coronavirus pandemic – and that was before the allegations about his extramarital affair emerged.

Pictures were published on Friday of the Health Secretary embracing his aide Gina Coladangelo on May 6 in what appears to be CCTV footage from inside the Department of Health and Social Care.

Mr Hancock has since apologised for breaking social distancing restrictions and the Prime Minister, according to No 10, considers the matter “closed”.

Here is a timeline of other occasions in the past 15 months when the Cabinet minister has found himself in hot water.

– June 17 2020

The Health Secretary apologised for a “human mistake” after he slapped a colleague on the back in the House of Commons, despite social distancing measures still being in place to curb the spread of coronavirus.

– October 11 2020

Mr Hancock was forced to deny claims that he broke the Government’s Covid drinking curfew, which was in place last autumn, after reports claimed he stayed drinking in a Commons bar beyond 10pm.

– February 19 2021

The High Court found that the Government unlawfully failed to publish details of billions of pounds worth of coronavirus-related contracts.

Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled that Mr Hancock had “breached his legal obligation to publish contract award notices within 30 days of the award of contracts” after spending “vast quantities of public money” on procurement in 2020.

The Secretary of State declined to apologise.

Watch: Hancock under pressure to resign over alleged affair

– February 23 2021

Labour accused the father-of-three of insulting health professionals after he claimed there was “never” a national shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the early days of the pandemic.

In March 2020, the Royal College of Nursing said that some nurses were sent to treat patients on Covid wards with “no protection at all”.

– May 26 2021

The Prime Minister’s former aide, Dominic Cummings, used his lengthy appearance in front of the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees to allege that the Health Secretary had lied to the Prime Minister over a promise to test new arrivals into care homes at the outset of the pandemic.

Mr Cummings said he recommended to Boris Johnson on a host of occasions that the former culture secretary should be sacked due to his handling of the crisis.

The senior minister denied the care home allegations but admitted that there were not enough tests available in spring 2020 to test everyone entering residential homes.

Dominic Cummings
Dominic Cummings was scathing about Matt Hancock (House of Commons/PA)

– May 28 2021

The Health Secretary was ruled to have committed a “minor” but undeliberate breach of the ministerial code by failing to declare that a family firm in which he held shares won an NHS contract, following a probe by the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser.

Independent adviser on ministerial standards Lord Geidt found that Mr Hancock, 42, should have declared that Topwood Limited, a firm owned by his sister and in which he held 20% shares, was approved as an NHS contractor.

Lord Geidt did not recommend that he resign.

– June 16 2021

Mr Cummings, who left No 10 last year in a power struggle, published apparent correspondence between him and the Prime Minister in which Mr Johnson appeared to call the Health Secretary “totally f****** useless”.

Mr Hancock called Mr Johnson’s jibe “ancient history” when asked about the reported comments.

Watch: Aide's brother at firm with NHS contracts

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