Matt Hancock 'let people down' after breaking social distancing rules

Matt Hancock has stepped down as health secretary after being pictured kissing aide Gina Coladangelo

Matt Hancock stepped down as Health Secretary after being pictured kissing aide Gina Coladangelo - Credit: Yui Mok/PA

West Suffolk MP and former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted he "let people down" after breaking his own social distancing rules earlier this year.

Mr Hancock became embroiled in a scandal in June when CCTV images of him kissing aide Gina Coladangelo in his office were leaked.

The 43-year-old stepped down from his position a day after the pictures were published.

Speaking to ITV's Robert Peston on his show, Mr Hancock revealed the ordeal "blew up every part" of his life and said it was "clearly the right decision" to quit as Health Secretary.

He added: "I just say sorry again for the failure of... I let a lot of people down and I'm sorry to the people that I hurt."

In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirming his resignation, Mr Hancock said serving as Health Secretary was "the honour of my life".

Voters in Mr Hancock's constituency believed his decision to step down was correct, while some said it could cause him to lose local support.

Sajid Javid was confirmed as the new Health Secretary shortly after Mr Hancock's resignation was confirmed.

During his appearance on Peston, Mr Hancock also said "we should test the hell out of ourselves" to "keep things open" over the Christmas period due to the emergence of the Omicron variant in the last week.

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He said it was "really important" that lateral flow tests "stay free".

Mr Hancock said: "We’ve got the lateral flow tests that anybody can take, I took one this morning and then I ordered another box of seven. They are available free, it’s really important that they stay free, the tests.”

Asked if Dr Jenny Harries, the UK Health Security Agency chief, was right to warn against unnecessary social interactions, he said: "Saying things like we may need to go further on working from home is perfectly reasonable. But I don’t think we’re there yet."

He added: “What I’d say on Christmas is we should test the hell out of ourselves… That is the way – best way – to just be really cautious and careful. And just get those tests – they are available free, and take them, and that will help to keep things open."

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