British health chief caught in hug that broke COVID rules | Boris Johnson News

The UK was embroiled in a political scandal on Friday as a tabloid newspaper published images of health chief Matt Hancock kissing an assistant – an embrace that apparently broke social distancing rules.

Front page photographs from the Sun newspaper showed Hancock posting the COVID-19 social distancing guidelines for kissing the woman – a friend hired for a taxpayer-funded role – in his office last month.

The photos were taken from May 6 to 11 days before lockdown rules were relaxed to allow hugs and other physical contact with people outside of her own household.

As the story went viral on social media, Health Secretary Hancock, a 42-year-old married father of three, said he had “let people down” with his actions and that he was “very sorry”.

“I accept that I violated social distancing guidelines under these circumstances,” he said. “I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and I would be grateful for my family’s confidentiality on this personal matter. “

A spokesperson for Boris Johnson later said the PM accepted Hancock’s apology and considered the matter closed.

When asked if Johnson had full confidence in Hancock, who has been engulfed in controversy in recent months, the spokesperson replied: “Yes”.

The spokesperson also said that the appointment of Hancock’s assistant was made “in the usual manner” and “followed the correct procedure”.

The Sun newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch said Hancock met the assistant at Oxford University in the early 2000s. She is listed on the Department of Health website as a non-executive director.

Hancock has previously commented on the breach of physical distancing rules for relationships.

Last year, he said it was fair for a government scientist to step down after breaking COVID rules by meeting a partner, describing the social distancing guidelines as both ‘there for everyone’ and ‘ extremely serious ”.

The opposition Labor Party called on the Prime Minister to sack Hancock, saying his position was “hopelessly untenable” after Friday’s events.

“If Matt Hancock has secretly maintained a relationship with an advisor in his office – whom he personally appointed to a taxpayer-funded post – this is a flagrant abuse of power and a clear conflict of interest Said Labor Party President Anneliese Dodds.

“The indictment against Matt Hancock includes the waste of taxpayer money, leaving care homes exposed and now charged with breaking his own COVID rules.”

Hancock in the throes of scandals

Hancock has been at the forefront of the government’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, often appearing on television urging the public to follow strict rules and defend against criticism.

Critics have chided his handling of the government’s response to the pandemic as slow at times and crippling at others.

In recent months, he has been caught up in several scandals.

Last week, private exchanges on WhatsApp emerged in which Johnson appeared to describe Hancock as “hopeless” for failing to spur mass testing efforts last March.

Johnson also appeared to blame the Health Secretary for the UK’s difficulty in obtaining ventilators for COVID-19 patients during the early stages of the crisis.

In February, it was found that Hancock had acted illegally by not revealing details of contracts signed during the pandemic.

He has been faced with questions about his shareholding in a family business that won a COVID-related contract from his ministry last year.

The Health Secretary has also been constantly criticized for failing to adequately protect nursing homes from the spread of the virus.

And in early 2020, in the first wave, he was accused of not purchasing enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.

The UK, one of the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, has recorded more than 128,000 coronavirus deaths.

A successful mass vaccination campaign in recent months has seen the death rate plunge, bBut the emergence of the Delta coronavirus variant, first detected in India, has seen the number of cases rise sharply again, which has alerted that a third wave is now underway.

Concerns over the highly transmissible Delta strain forced Johnson to delay the planned full lifting of virus restrictions in England earlier this month.

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