Scrutiny of Hancock’s dealing with of the pandemic is way from over

The erstwhile well being secretary turned actuality TV “star” Matt Hancock is again within the headlines.

On Sunday 26 February, Hancock was requested to clarify why he seemed to be sporting a signed Newcastle United shirt that he had beforehand auctioned off to boost cash for charity. A Magpies fan since his “Geordie Uncle Dave” used to take him to video games when he was younger, Hancock had posted a TikTok video1 (after all he’s on TikTok) sporting the shirt shortly earlier than his workforce misplaced to Manchester United within the Carabao Cup closing. In a swift clarification on his selection of garment2 he defined that he had offered the shirt for charity however that it was gifted again to him by the one who had purchased it. So, apart from his workforce dropping, there wasn’t an excessive amount of hurt carried out.

However issues took a particular flip for the more serious for Hancock on the morning of Wednesday 1 March when 100 000 WhatsApp messages that he had exchanged with ministers and officers in the course of the pandemic had been leaked to the Each day Telegraph by the journalist Isabel Oakeshott.3 Essentially the most damaging declare from the messages is that, when he was well being secretary, Hancock had dismissed professional recommendation from Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, to check anybody going right into a care house—from hospital or the group—for covid-19 originally of the pandemic.

Oakeshott—a distinguished lockdown sceptic—obtained the messages whereas engaged on Pandemic Diaries, Hancock’s memoir, which she cowrote with him final yr. Her startling determination to launch them to the newspaper this week has angered Hancock, who issued a right away denial, saying that the personal messages had been “stolen” and that the interpretation of them was “categorically unfaithful.” Oakeshott’s justification for leaking the messages was that it will take a few years to conclude the official covid public inquiry, which she claimed was vulnerable to being a “colossal whitewash.”

There was additional embarrassment for Hancock on Thursday when it emerged that he had described instructing unions as “absolute arses” throughout an trade with the then schooling secretary Gavin Williamson over the choice to delay A stage exams for a number of weeks due to covid.

Fairly aside from what these messages present us about the usual of discourse in authorities when main coverage selections had been being made throughout a pandemic, the important thing lesson for Hancock right here is to decide on your ghost author very rigorously. With additional leaks anticipated, and with preliminary hearings of the covid-19 public inquiry kicking off this week, his transition from Westminster to gentle leisure after his controversial look on I’m a Superstar . . . Get Me Out of Right here4 appears unlikely to be as black and white as his beloved Newcastle United shirt.

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  • Competing pursuits: none declared.

  • Provenance and peer evaluation: not commissioned, not peer reviewed.


  1. Iacobucci G. Sixty seconds on . . . the jungle. BMJ 2022;379:o2671.