Isabel Oakeshott asked if she was friends with Matt Hancock
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As many as 100,000 of Matt Hancock’s WhatsApp messages, sent during the coronavirus pandemic, were leaked to the press as part of an investigation by the Telegraph. The dossier of leaked communications reveals an insight into the inner workings of Government during the pandemic, as the messages ranging from the serious to the absurd. Below, we’ve summarised the top five most outrageous messages from the thousands the then Health Secretary sent.
1. When Matt Hancock admitted he had engaged in a “snog and heavy petting” in the office
When Matt Hancock and his team were notified by the Sun that the paper had acquired pictures of the then Health Secretary and Gina Coladangelo engaging in an affair in the Department of Health, Mr Hancock asked “How bad are the pics?”.
When told it was a “snog and heavy petting”, Mr Hancock replied: “How the f*** did anyone photograph that?”
Mr Hancock’s Media adviser, Damon Poole, asked him if he kissed Ms Coladangelo in the department, to which Hancock said “yes”, clarifying it was in his “office & balcony”.
When Mr Poole said the Sun had further evidence that the pair “were kissing again as late as this week in the office … Any response?”, Ms Coladangelo said: “FFS” and “Yes”, while Mr Hancock added: “It wasn’t exactly a one off.”
2. When Matt Hancock discouraged Ms Coladangelo not to resign in order to save his own job
After the news of Matt Hancock’s affair with Ms Codelangelo broke in the media, questions were raised over whether or not the official should resign. But Mr Hancock urged her not to, as it would put “pressure” on him to resign himself.
Writing in a group chat with Mr Hancock and other officials, Ms Coladangelo said: “Do you think I should I step back tonight for papers tomorrow?”
Mr Hancock responded: “No. Definitely not. It adds to pressure for me to go.”
3. When Matt Hancock and Simon Case joked about quarantine hotels
Speaking about the policy of putting travellers in quarantine hotes in February 2021, Mr Hancock told Cabinet Secretary Simon Case they were “giving big families all the big suites and putting pop stars in the box rooms”.
Mr Case replied: “I just want to see some of the faces of people coming out of first class into a premier inn shoe box.”
A few days later, Mr Case asked how many people had been “locked up” in hotels the previous day. Mr Hancock replied: “None. But 149 chose to enter the country and are now in Quarantine Hotels due to their own free will!” to which Mr Case replied: “Hilarious.”
4.When Matt Hancock sought to hog the Covid vaccine limelight
On the day the Pfizer vaccine was announced in November 2020, Mr Hancock WhatsApp his media adviser saying: “I should DEFINITELY do the round tmrw” – referring to the broadcast round, which one minister normally appears on each morning.
He added: “It MUST NOT be Alok [Sharmer]!”
In January 2021, Mr Hancock described the speeding up of the jabs rollout as a “Hancock triumph”, taking sole credit for the feat.
5. When Matt Hancock tried to cover up inviting Gina Coladangelo to G7 dinners
When Labour MP Ben Bradshaw asked in a parliamentary question “what role” Ms Coladangelo “played in the G7 health ministers’ meeting in June 2021″, the response was altered to remove any reference to Mr Hancock.
The “suggested reply” written in July 2021 following Mr Hancock’s resignation over the affair – originally stated: “Gina Coladangelo attended the G7 health ministers’ meeting at the request of the previous secretary of state, for the Department of Health and Social Care.” The draft response was forwarded to Mr Hancock by Mr Nixon, who had stayed on in the department to help Sajid Javid, the incoming minister.
Someone appears to have crossed out the response by hand, instead writing over it: “Gina Coladangelo played an advisory role to the secretary of state at the G7 meeting.”
Mr Hancock suggested a further, watered-down version: “Gina Coladangelo attended the G7 in her role as a non-executive director of DHSC.” When the final response was published on Oct 28, 2021, it had been altered again, stating: “Gina Coladangelo attended the G7 health ministers’ meeting as a part of the UK delegation”. Any reference to Matt Hancock had been removed.
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