January 24, 2022

UK health minister resigns after breaching coronavirus rules

LONDON — U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has led the country’s response to the coronavirus, resigned Saturday, a day after apologizing for breaching social distancing rules with an aide with whom he was allegedly having an affair.

Hancock had been under growing pressure since the tabloid Sun newspaper published images showing him and senior aide Gina Coladangelo kissing in an office at the Department of Health. The Sun said the closed-circuit television images were taken May 6 — 11 days before lockdown rules were eased to allow hugs and other physical contact with people outside one’s own household.

In a resignation letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Hancock said the government owed it “to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down.”

“And those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I’ve got to resign,” he wrote.

Johnson said he was sorry to receive Hancock’s resignation and that he “should leave office very proud of what you have achieved — not just in tackling the pandemic, but even before COVID-19 struck us.”

Johnson had earlier expressed confidence in Hancock despite widespread calls to fire him.

Jonathan Ashworth, health spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, said “it is right that Matt Hancock has resigned. But why didn’t Boris Johnson have the guts to sack him and why did he say the matter was closed?”

Some lawmakers from the governing Conservatives had also called on Hancock to quit because he wasn’t practicing what he has been preaching during the pandemic.

“The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis,” Hancock, who is married, said in his letter of resignation.

“I want to reiterate my apology for breaking the guidance, and apologize to my family and loved ones for putting them through this,” he said. “I also need (to) be with my children at this time.”

Hancock, 42, is the latest in a string of British officials to be accused of breaching restrictions they imposed on the rest of the population to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The government is also facing questions about the circumstances in which Hancock hired Coladangelo, a university friend who was appointed to his department last year. She was initially employed as an unpaid adviser and this year became a non-executive director at the Department of Health, a role that pays about 15,000 pounds ($21,000) a year.

Johnson’s Conservative government has been branded a “chumocracy” by critics for hiring special advisers and contractors from outside the civil service without long-customary levels of scrutiny.

Hancock’s department has been accused of waiving procurement rules to award lucrative contracts for protective equipment and other medical essentials, often to personal contacts. Hancock has said he was driven by the need to secure essential supplies quickly at the height of the outbreak.

Hancock has faced weeks of pressure since the prime minister’s former top aide, Dominic Cummings, accused him of botching the government’s response to the pandemic. Cummings, now a bitter critic of the government he once served, told lawmakers last month that Hancock “should have been fired” for alleged lies and errors. He also published a WhatsApp message in which Johnson branded Hancock “totally (expletive) hopeless.”

Cummings himself was accused of breaking the rules and undermining the government’s “stay home” message when he drove 250 miles (400 kilometers) across England to his parents’ home during the spring 2020 lockdown. Johnson resisted pressure to fire him, but Cummings left his job in November amid a power struggle in the prime minister’s office.

in Health
Related Posts

In mental health crises, a 911 call now brings a mixed team of helpers — and maybe no cops

June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

By the time Kiki Radermacher, a mental health therapist, arrived at a Missoula, Montana, home on an emergency 911 call...

Justices reject Johnson & Johnson appeal of $2 billion talc verdict

June 1, 2021

June 1, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is leaving in place a $2 billion verdict in favor of women who claim...

Desperate for home care, seniors often wait months with workers in short supply

June 30, 2021

June 30, 2021

CASTINE, Maine — For years, Louise Shackett has had trouble walking or standing for long periods, making it difficult for...

WATCH: White House COVID task force holds news briefing

May 18, 2021

May 18, 2021

The White House coronavirus task force will hold a news briefing on Tuesday, May 18. Watch the briefing in the...

School nurses, health service corps part of $7.4 billion virus plan

May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is providing $7.4 billion to expand the nation’s public health capacity, including hiring school nurses...

Carbon dioxide in the air has reached another dangerous milestone

June 7, 2021

June 7, 2021

The annual peak of global heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air has reached another dangerous milestone: 50% higher than when...

WATCH: White House COVID-19 Task Force gives pandemic update

May 21, 2021

May 21, 2021

The White House COVID-19 Task Force met as the nation’s vaccine rollout continues and the rate of new infections declines....

WATCH LIVE: Harris reflects on mobilizing more people to get vaccinated

June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

JACKSON, Miss. — Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to address the need for more people to get vaccinated against...

School districts intensify summer programs to combat learning lost during the pandemic

June 30, 2021

June 30, 2021

Stephanie Sy: A rising eighth grader at Sandy Springs Middle School, Harmonee Jackson is having to attend summer school for...

Why police, firefighters are fighting vaccine mandates and what that means for their jobs

October 29, 2021

October 29, 2021

John Yang: Most New York City municipal workers are getting vaccinated, with the pace picking up as today’s deadline neared....

Busy shops, fewer workers: Portland grapples with post-pandemic reality

November 13, 2021

November 13, 2021

Last year, Portland, Maine, was struggling to prepare for an economic winter of uncertainty. A push of late fall warmth...

The COVID-era habits that made us happier and healthier

June 29, 2021

June 29, 2021

Many Americans are getting back to normal this summer, embracing the things they used to do without thinking — dining...

CDC director says mask turnaround based solely on science

May 16, 2021

May 16, 2021

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday defended the decision to ease mask-wearing guidance for...

US sends Taiwan 2.5 million vaccine doses, tripling pledge

June 20, 2021

June 20, 2021

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The U.S. sent 2.5 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan on Sunday, tripling an...

J&J agrees to pay $230M to settle New York opioid claim

June 26, 2021

June 26, 2021

NEW YORK — The New York attorney general says Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $230 million to settle...