Matt Hancock at Covid Inquiry: what did ex-Health Secretary say about Gina Coladangelo? CCTV footage explained
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Matt Hancock has opened up to the Covid Inquiry about the illicit affair which cost him his job in government and his marriage.
Hancock was forced to resign as Health Secretary during the pandemic after CCTV footage emerged showing him breaking his own social distancing guidelines and kissing Gina Coladangelo, who was at that point his adviser. The pair have now split from their spouses and are now in a relationship.
Today (1 December) at the Covid Inquiry, Hancock spoke about the affair and how it may have impacted the public's adherence to Covid rules. But what did say, and what actually happened? Here's everything you need to know.
What happened with the Gina Coladangelo kiss?
In June 2021, the Sun published footage of Hancock and Coladangelo kissing in his office in the Department of Health and Social Care. In the CCTV clip, which was dated from May, Hancock can be seen checking the corridor is clear before closing the door and then leaning against it so no one can get in. The pair then begin their passionate embrace.
At the time, it was illegal for two people from different households to gather indoors. Meetings for work purposes were still allowed, although under the law introduced by Hancock, for work meetings they had to be “reasonably necessary”.
Initially Hancock declined to resign, saying: "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." However a day later, the pressure became too great and he quit saying "those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them".
Who is Gina Coladangelo?
Coladangelo and Hancock first met at Oxford University in the mid 1990s. They were both studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics and both worked on the student radio station, Oxygen 107.9 FM, where Coladangelo was a newsreader and Hancock was a sports reporter. Friends from their university days said that Hancock "always had a crush on her" but she was always "out of his league".
Coladangelo became a lobbyist working at Luther Pendragon, a firm which promises clients help to “navigate and influence complex legislation”. In 2020, she was handed a role as non-executive director at the DHSC with Hancock, earning at least £15,000 a year and having scrutiny over its running. There was no public record of the appointment.
Her ex-husband Oliver Tress is the founder of the fashion and homeware shop Oliver Bonas, where she also worked as communications director. Since the affair, they have split and she is now in a relationship with Hancock. The pair both have three children. Hancock told his wife, Martha Hoya Millar about the illicit rendezvous the night it was made public.
What did Matt Hancock tell the Covid Inquiry?
Hancock accepted that the affair may have impacted the public’s confidence in rules he put in place to stop the spread of Covid. Inquiry counsel Hugo Keith KC said “I’m sure you acknowledge the incredible offence and upset that was caused by that revelation”.
Keith asked if he thought it impacted the “public’s propensity to adhere to rules”, Hancock replied: “Well, what I’d say is that the lesson for the future is very clear. And it is important that those who make the rules abide by them, and I resigned in order to take accountability for my failure to do.”
Keith said the resignation “must have been a reflection of the fact that you understood the importance of, or the deleterious consequences of, rule-breaking or guidance-breaking on public confidence in the public at large”. Hancock replied: “Yes.”
Ralph Blackburn is NationalWorld’s politics editor based in Westminster, where he gets special access to Parliament, MPs and government briefings. If you liked this article you can follow Ralph on X (Twitter) here and sign up to his free weekly newsletter Politics Uncovered, which brings you the latest analysis and gossip from Westminster every Sunday morning.