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Matt Hancock apologises for ‘human mistake’ after breaking his own social distancing rules

PUBLISHED: 20:13 17 June 2020 | UPDATED: 20:20 17 June 2020

Health secretary Matt Hancock placing his arm around a fellow MP as he arrived for prime minister's questions. He has since apologised for breaking social distancing rules. Picture: BBC NEWS/PA WIRE

Health secretary Matt Hancock placing his arm around a fellow MP as he arrived for prime minister's questions. He has since apologised for breaking social distancing rules. Picture: BBC NEWS/PA WIRE

West Suffolk MP and health secretary Matt Hancock has apologised for a “human mistake” after being filmed breaking his own social distancing rules in the House of Commons.

As secretary of state for the Department of Health and Social Care, Mr Hancock has been responsible for leading the government’s efforts to tackle coronavirus.

Alongside prime minister Boris Johnson, he has also been responsible for setting strict rules and restrictions on people’s way of life to halt the spread of the virus.

The key rule imposed by the government has been social distancing, where people not from the same household are told to stay at least two metres apart at all times - to prevent one person catching germs from another.

However, footage taken in Parliament shows Mr Hancock placing his arm around a fellow MP as he arrived for prime minister’s questions on Wednesday.

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced that Leicester had actually had far more positive test results than shown in public data Picture: PIPPA FOWLES/DOWNING STREET/CROWN COPYRIGHTHealth secretary Matt Hancock announced that Leicester had actually had far more positive test results than shown in public data Picture: PIPPA FOWLES/DOWNING STREET/CROWN COPYRIGHT

He then remains standing right next to the colleague while waiting to be seated, despite floor markings guiding MPs in the chamber.

A third MP then appears to the pair’s right. The MP Mr Hancock had placed his arm around steps back, appearing to do so to stay socially distant.

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The incident caused fury on social media, with television presenter Piers Morgan saying: “Health Secretary ⁦@MattHancock has spent the last three months telling us all to socially distance at least 2m apart.

“This is him today ignoring that in Parliament.

“Yet again, one rule for them, another for us.”

WATCH: ‘One rule for them, another for us’ - Piers Morgan accuses Matt Hancock of breaking social distancing rules

After the incident, Mr Hancock said in a statement: “I’m so sorry for a human mistake on my part.

“Like all of us, I instinctively wanted to reach out to a friend I’d just seen - in this case, for the first time in many weeks. I realised my mistake and corrected myself.

“It shows how hard social distancing can be but it is so important that we all keep trying to do our bit.”

Parliament advice on proceedings during the Covid-19 pandemic states the House of Commons’ physical proceedings should be socially distanced and “in line with public health guidance”.


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