Matt Hancock says he ‘broke the rules because he fell in love’ in tell-all podcast

He said he broke the social distancing guidelines but “by then, they weren’t actually rules, they weren’t the law.” – So that’s quite clear isn’t it? – Owl

It came after host Steven Bartlett, the entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den investor, asked the former minister about Covid rules during the height of the pandemic which prevented couples in different households from kissing, holding hands or any other type of touching.

www.independent.co.uk

Matt Hancock has said he broke social distancing guidelines at the height of the Covid pandemic because he “fell in love” with his married aide.

The former health secretary resigned from his ministerial role in disgrace and left his wife of 15 years after CCTV images emerged of him kissing close friend Gina Coladangelo inside the Department of Health last summer.

In a tell-all interview with The Diary of a CEO podcast, Mr Hancock has now revealed he “fell in love with somebody” and it “all happened very quickly” – but insisted he did not break the law.

He said: “I resigned because I broke the social distancing guidelines.

“By then, they weren’t actually rules, they weren’t the law. But that’s not the point.

“The point is they were the guidelines that I’d been proposing. That happened because I fell in love with somebody.”

Mr Hancock quit in June last year after The Sun published images taken on 6 May 2021 showing him in an embrace with Ms Coladangelo.

Two-metre social distancing guidance was in place at the time, while a ban on hugging between people in different households wasn’t lifted until two weeks later.

Ms Coladangelo, whom Mr Hancock met when they both worked in student radio at Oxford University, was a non-executive director at the Department of Health at the time, earning at least £15,000 a year.

Mr Hancock told the podcast Ms Coladangelo, whom he has known “for more than half [his] life”, was brought in to help with public communications.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock has said he broke social distancing guidelines at the height of the Covid pandemic because he ‘fell in love’ with his married aide

“We spent a lot of time together – ironically trying to get me to be able to communicate in a more emotionally intelligent way – and we fell in love,” he said.

“That’s something that was completely outside of my control and I of course regret the pain that that’s caused and the very, very, very public nature … but I fell in love with someone.

“It actually happened after the rules were lifted, but the guidance was still in place.

“I hold no bitterness about this because I broke the rules, I ’fess up. I broke the guidance.”

Mr Hancock was also keen to stress that his and Ms Coladangelo’s relationship was not “casual sex”.

It came after host Steven Bartlett, the entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den investor, asked the former minister about Covid rules during the height of the pandemic which prevented couples in different households from kissing, holding hands or any other type of touching.

The then-health secretary had warned people to “be careful” about the risk of coronavirus when those rules were relaxed in September 2020 for couples in “established relationships”.

A visibly uncomfortable Mr Hancock asked Mr Bartlett to start the section of questioning again without the reference to casual sex.

“I haven’t had casual sex with anybody,” he said. “I fell in love with somebody.”

The podcast comes after the High Court ruled Mr Hancock broke equality law when appointing Conservative peer Dido Harding to an emergency health job during the Covid crisis.

Judges ruled the then-health secretary failed to comply with public sector equality duty in the process of appointing Baroness Harding and her ex-Sainsbury colleague Mike Coupe to senior posts in 2020.

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