Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

UK government, hit by Hancock scandal, to probe leak of footage

CoronavirusJun 27, 2021 01:36PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: British Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock speaks at a memorial tree planting ceremony at Oxford Botanic Gardens, following a G7 health ministers meeting, ahead of the G7 leaders' summit, at Mansfield College, Oxford University in Ox

By Elizabeth Piper

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain's government will investigate how images of former health minister Matt Hancock kissing an aide found their way into the media and forced his resignation, in the latest scandal to hit Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government.

After first rejecting calls for Hancock to be fired or to resign after pictures were published on Friday of him embracing a woman he had appointed to a taxpayer-funded role, Johnson accepted the minister's decision to step down on Saturday.

The departure put renewed focus on the government over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by Hancock, it stumbled in the early days over testing and protective equipment. Britain has one of the highest official coronavirus death tolls in the world.

A report by the BBC on Sunday that sensitive defence ministry documents had been found by a member of the public at a bus stop this week did little to dispel a sense of chaos at the heart of government. The ministry said it was investigating the incident.

Asked whether the health ministry was investigating how the images of Hancock had been taken in his government office and then leaked, Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis told Sky News: "It is a matter I know the department of health will be looking into to understand exactly how that recording ... got out of the system."

He later told Times Radio there were two issues for the government to look into - whether the camera in Hancock's office was there "appropriately" and, if it was there for security reasons, "how that video got out to the public domain".

The Sun newspaper published photos on Friday of Hancock kissing the aide last month - at a time when coronavirus guidelines banned people from hugging others who were not members of their household. It has also posted video footage.


After the images were published, many of Hancock's fellow Conservative lawmakers had privately called for him to go, saying his position was untenable after he admitted to breaking the coronavirus restrictions he had set.

Johnson, who has faced down criticism of various scandals including the funding of refurbishment of his apartment and a trip that broke restrictions last year by his then senior adviser Dominic Cummings, first stood by Hancock.

He then accepted the minister's resignation on Saturday and suggested Hancock might return to a higher public role.

Britain's main opposition Labour Party has raised a number of questions about the Hancock scandal, including whether the former minister had broken government rules.

"If anybody thinks that the resignation of Matt Hancock is the end of the issue, I think they're wrong," Labour leader Keir Starmer told reporters.

"The prime minister should have sacked him. Yet again Boris Johnson was too slow, too weak and didn't show the leadership that was needed. When the many people who made huge sacrifices during this pandemic see this, what they see is one rule for them and another rule for those close to government."

The Sunday Times, citing documents, reported that Hancock faced an investigation into allegations he had used his personal email to conduct government business, breaching guidelines.

A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson said: "All DHSC ministers understand the rules around personal email usage and only conduct government business through their departmental email addresses."

New health minister Sajid Javid, appointed by Johnson on Saturday, told reporters his top priority was to see an end to the pandemic as soon as possible, a statement that was later toned down in a comment issued by his ministry.

"We are still in a pandemic, and I want to see that come to an end as soon as possible and that will be my most immediate priority to see that we can return to normal as soon and as quickly as possible," said Javid, a former finance minister.

UK government, hit by Hancock scandal, to probe leak of footage

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email