A poll of NationalWorld readers has revealed 95 per cent think the Health Secretary should resign from his role following reports of an alleged affair with his aide.
The Twitter poll found readers are overwhelmingly in favour of Matt Hancock stepping down after CCTV footage obtained by The Sun caught him kissing Gina Coladangelo in a breach of Covid-19 restrictions.
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At a glance: 5 key points
- Lawyers have said Mr Hancock may have broken the law regarding coronavirus restrictions, but he only admitted to breaching guidance saying he was “very sorry” for letting people down.
- The Prime Minister has so far resisted calls to sack him over the breach, with a Downing Street spokesman saying Boris Johnson had accepted his apology and “considers the matter closed”.
- Questions have now been raised over Mrs Coladangelo’s appointment to her role in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in the first place.
- Mrs Coladangelo, who is married to Oliver Tress, founder of British retailer Oliver Bonas, was initially taken on as an unpaid adviser in the DHSC on a six-month contract in March last year, before being appointed as a non-executive director which offers a salary of £15,000 per year for 15 to 20 days of work.
- Mr Hancock, 42, has been married to his wife Martha for 15 years and the pair have three children, while Mrs Coladangelo, 43, is also married with three children.
What’s been said
While the Prime Minister has said he considers the matter of the alleged affair “closed”, several MPs have spoken out in favour of his resignation.
North Norfolk Conservative Duncan Baker became the first MP to openly call for Mr Hancock to go on Saturday (26 June), telling 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.”
The SNP has said Mr Hancock “risks jeopardising vital public health measures” by retaining his role as Health Secretary, while the Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice group, representing those who have lost loved ones to the pandemic, have urged the Prime Minister to relieve him of his job, saying his actions broke the “position of neutrality on ministerial conduct”.
In a letter to Mr Johnson, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said Lord Geidt, the independent adviser on ministerial interests, should probe Mr Hancock’s behaviour.
Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds added that if Mr Hancock 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”.
Mr Hancock apologised for his actions in a statement issued on Friday (25 June), 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.”
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”.
However, human rights barrister Adam Wagner said the footage showed a clear breach of the social distancing regulations which were in place at the time, making it illegal to have any gathering of more than one person indoors, unless an exception applied.
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