British government investigating Hancock CCTV footage leak

UK health secretary resigned in wake of video showing him kissing aide in his office

Matt Hancock has resigned as UK health secretary after he was caught breaking Covid-19 rules by kissing and embracing an aide in his office. Video: Reuters

 

The British government is investigating the leak of CCTV footage of Matt Hancock kissing an aide in his office, which led to his resignation as health secretary on Saturday. Mr Hancock resigned after the Sun newspaper published pictures and video of his embrace with Gina Coladangelo, a friend from university days he hired last year as an adviser.

Sajid Javid, who resigned as chancellor of the exchequer in February 2020 after he refused to allow former Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings to choose his advisers, has returned to cabinet as the new health secretary.

Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis confirmed that there would be an investigation into how the footage from a camera inside Mr Hancock’s office was leaked.

“It’s something we need to get to the bottom of. Quite rightly what happens in government departments can be sensitive and important. So, yes, I do know that is something the Department of Health will be taking forward as an internal investigation,” he told Sky News.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said Britain’s intelligence and security agencies would want to look carefully at the leak, adding it was “completely unacceptable” from a security point of view that ministers should be filmed inside their offices without their knowledge.

“But there’s also another issue which is that ministers do need to have the ability to have frank, private conversations with their senior officials to debate things, so that they can understand issues, and know that those conversations will remain private if they’re going to be able to go through the thought processes that enable them to make the right decisions and so I think that will also be something on the minds of government ministers today,” he told the BBC.

Security

Former Labour minister Alan Johnson said there had never been a camera in his office when he was in government and former international development secretary Rory Stewart said he had been told explicitly that there was no camera in his office. Labour’s deputy national campaign co-ordinator Conor McGinn called for an urgent review of security in all key government buildings.

“The leak of CCTV from inside a supposedly secure government building is a serious matter. This is not about Matt Hancock’s hypocrisy being exposed, it’s about the potentially huge risks posed by such a lax approach from government to security in its own buildings,” he said.

“The government must urgently review all of its key buildings, have the intelligences agencies sweep them for bugs and unauthorised CCTV, and address the speculation about a private company with links to China having access to Whitehall’s inner sanctums.”

Mr Javid, who served as home secretary and led the business, housing, communities and culture ministries before becoming chancellor, said his focus as health secretary would be on ending the coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions as soon as possible.

“I was honoured to take up this position. I also know that it comes with huge responsibility, and I will do everything I can to make sure that I deliver for the people of this great country. 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,” he said.