Matt Hancock warned of hugging risks 10 days after alleged embrace

File photo dated 16/05/2021 of Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaving BBC Broadcasting House in centr

Matt Hancock is facing calls to resign over the accusations (file photo) - Credit: PA

Health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock told the public to be "careful" when hugging just 10 days after CCTV appeared to show him kissing and embracing a married colleague.

CCTV footage from May 6 appears to show Mr Hancock kissing aide Gina Coladangelo 10 days before he told the nation to be careful when hugging – and to only do it outside.

He is now facing calls to resign following the kiss which allegedly happened at the headquarters of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Speaking on May 16, he said he planned to hug his parents when the curb on social contact ended the next day, but said he would do it outdoors to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

The married cabinet minister is accused of breaching guidance on social distancing in place until May 17, which said people should keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble. 

Speaking to Sky News on May 16, Mr Hancock said: “We should all be careful, we all know the risks… Of course there are people who have been yearning to have some physical contact.

“You should do that carefully. If you’ve had both jabs more than two weeks ago, that’s much safer.

“We all have a personal responsibility, we all know now the sorts of things that are riskier… I think personal responsibility is an important mantra here because people have been so responsible through the crisis and they’ve really listened and followed the guidance and instructions that the Prime Minister set out, and that’s the approach we should take together.”

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Matt Hancock pictured with wife Martha in 2010. - Credit: Archant

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In 2020, in the early months of the pandemic, Mr Hancock also said government Sage adviser Professor Neil Ferguson had been right to resign after breaking lockdown and social distancing rules to see his married lover.

Professor Ferguson resigned from his position in May last year for breaking rules after his relationship with a married woman came to light.

Mr Hancock said he had been left speechless after learning of the “extraordinary” breach of the rules and that police should consider whether to take further action against Prof Ferguson.

He said Prof Ferguson “took the right decision to resign” as a government adviser after conceding he made an “error of judgment” by allowing a woman to visit him at home.

Asked about police involvement, he told Sky News: “They will take their decisions independently from ministers, that’s quite right, it’s always been like that…

“So I give them their space to make that decision, but I think he took the right decision to resign.”

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