Calls for Matt Hancock to resign ramp up as Conservative MPs break cover
- Credit: PA
Conservative MPs have come out against West Suffolk's Matt Hancock after he was pictured breaking social distancing guidelines by kissing an aide.
Duncan Baker for North Norfolk, William Wragg for Hazel Grove and Esther McVey for Tatton have all made negative public comments following the health secretary's behaviour.
Meanwhile Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, Waveney MP Peter Aldous, Ipswich MP Tom Hunt, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter, South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, and Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill were unavailable for comment.
Mr Baker was the first Tory MP to ask Mr Hancock, who is reported to have returned to his Suffolk home following the revelations he had an alleged affair with Gina Coladangelo, to resign.
He told our sister title the Eastern Daily Press: “In my view people in high public office and great positions of responsibility should act with the appropriate morals and ethics that come with that role.
“Matt Hancock, on a number of measures, has fallen short of that. As an MP who is a devoted family man, married for 12 years with a wonderful wife and children, standards and integrity matter to me.
“I will not in any shape condone this behaviour and I have in the strongest possible terms told the Government what I think."
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Mr Wragg tweeted: “Re Mr Hancock, a thought: Covid regulations have created a dystopian world of denunciation, finger-wagging and hypocrisy.
“Let us be freed from this tyranny of diktat and arbitrary rule. As we shall inevitably see with this sad example, the revolution always consumes its own.”
Former government minister Ms Mcvey said on GB News: "You can't have one law for one, and one law for somebody else.'"
The West Suffolk MP Mr Hancock said: "I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances, I have let people down and am very sorry.
"I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family on this personal matter."
A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Johnson had accepted Mr Hancock's apology and "considers the matter closed".
Video footage from The Sun of Mr Hancock kissing and groping married Gina Coladangelo has also led to the Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice group, which represents those who have lost loved ones to the pandemic, urging Boris Johnson to relieve Mr Hancock of his job.
The Metropolitan Police said it was not investigating any offences, which allegedly took place last month, because “as a matter of course the MPS is not investigating Covid related issues retrospectively”.
Human rights barrister Adam Wagner told BBC News: “I am pretty clear, although you never know for sure, that there was a breach of the regulations, on the basis that at the time it was illegal to have any gathering of more than one person anywhere indoors unless an exception applied."
Mr Wagner added it would have been "reasonable" if it was work purposes but the images do not suggest that.
Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said if Mr Hancock, who has been married to the mother of his three children, Martha, for 15 years, had been secretly having a relationship with an adviser he appointed to a taxpayer-funded role, it was “a blatant abuse of power and a clear conflict of interest”.
A No 10 spokesman insisted the “correct procedure” had been followed in relation Mrs Coladangelo’s appointment but refused to go into detail.
Professor Stephen Reicher, a government behavioural science adviser on the Spi-B committee, said the Prime Minister sticking by aides and ministers who may have breached the rules made the repercussions for restriction compliance “toxic”.