UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has resigned after video footage surfaced last week of him breaking social distancing guidelines by kissing his aide, Gina Coladangelo, in his work office.
Currently, social distancing is not a legal requirement at work, but the footage was recorded on May 6, when England was still in the second stage of COVID-19 restrictions. This meant contact between people was only allowed if it was “reasonably necessary”.
The general public and press alike have called out the PM’s team and Hancock for their hypocrisy over social distancing. Health spokeswoman Munira Wilson said: “He was telling families not to hug loved ones, while doing whatever he liked in the workplace.”
Hancock’s situation sparked further outrage as he has been married to Martha Hancock for 15 years. Coladangelo is also a married woman, leaving many to question Hancock’s character and professionalism.
Speaking on the situation, Hancock lamented that he has “let people down”, as MPs urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to sack Hancock after his unprofessional conduct. However, the PM took the situation differently, saying he “considers the matter closed” and claims he has complete confidence in Hancock, despite his wrongdoing.
Annaliese Dodds, chairwoman of the Labour party, said: “If Matt Hancock has been secretly having a relationship with an adviser in his office—whom he personally appointed to a taxpayer-funded role—it is a blatant abuse of power and a clear conflict of interest.”
This isn’t the first time the general public has voiced their distaste for the government’s handling of COVID-19 rules. At the end of last year, the PM’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, was in hot water after he decided to drive outside of his local area, despite exhibiting coronavirus symptoms.
In his resignation letter, Hancock said: “We have worked so hard as a country to fight the pandemic. The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis. I want to reiterate my apology for breaking the guidance and apologise to my family and loved ones for putting them through this. I also need [to] be with my children at this time.”
In Hancock’s place, former Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid has been appointed as the new Health Secretary.