'He hasn't broken any rules '- Norfolk MP defends Matt Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street, L

Health secretary Matt Hancock - Credit: PA

A Norfolk MP has defended Matt Hancock after he was caught kissing a close aide in breach of coronavirus restrictions. 

Pressure is mounting on the health secretary to resign after a video of Mr Hancock in an embrace with Gina Coladangelo was published on Friday night. 

But South West Norfolk MP and secretary of state for international trade Liz Truss said Mr Hancock "hasn't broken any rules."

During a visit to a fruit farm in Lincolnshire on Friday, Ms Truss also described it as a "personal matter" before going on to say Mr Hancock has her support in the Cabinet. 

Secretary of State for International Trade and South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss Picture: Chris Bisho

South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss has defended Matt Hancock - Credit: Chris Bishop

Labour has urged prime minister Boris Johnson to sack Mr Hancock, however, describing his position as "untenable". 

Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk, has also said Mr Hancock has "fallen short" in his behaviour. 

Mr Baker said: "In my view people in high public office and great positions of responsibility, should act with the appropriate morals and ethics that come with that role. Matt Hancock, on a number of measures has fallen short of that.

Duncan Baker, Conservative candidate in North Norfolk. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE CANDIDATE

Duncan Baker, Conservative candidate in North Norfolk. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE CANDIDATE - Credit: Archant

"As an MP who is a devoted family man, married for 12 years with a wonderful wife and children, standards and integrity matter to me.

"I will not in any shape condone this behaviour, and I have in the strongest possible terms told the government what I think."

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Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said: "I think the whole government should resign.

"At the end of the day, Professor Neil Ferguson was a highly educated individual and highly regarded in the fight against Covid. And yet when he broke the restrictions Mr Hancock suggested he could be prosecuted.

"To now find he broke the restrictions he himself drew up, will smack of rank hypocrisy of the first order to much of the public."

Many on social media recalled Mr Hancock’s harsh criticism of Professor Ferguson after the government adviser was found to have broken lockdown rules by arranging visits from his lover last year.

The prime minister has so far resisted calls to sack Mr Hancock, who said he was "very sorry" for letting people down after The Sun first reported he was having an extramarital affair.

The Sun reported that its pictures of Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo, who are both married with three children, had been taken inside the Department of Health on May 6.

A person reads a copy of the Sun newspaper in Westminster, London, with the story and pictures of He

A copy of the Sun newspaper with pictures of Matt Hancock appearing to kiss his adviser Gina Coladangelo - Credit: PA

Social distancing at work is not a legal requirement, but the government recommends people keep two metres apart where possible, or one metre with "risk mitigation" such as wearing face masks.

In a statement, Mr Hancock said: "I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances, I have let people down and am very sorry.

"I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family on this personal matter."

A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Johnson had accepted Mr Hancock's apology and "considers the matter closed".

Ms Coladangelo, who is married to the founder of the retailer Oliver Bonas, Oliver Tress, is a friend of Mr Hancock's from their days together at Oxford University and was appointed to the Department of Health and Social Care [DHSC] last year.

She was initially taken on as an unpaid adviser on a six-month contract in March 2020, before being appointed as a non-executive director at the department.

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, said he would not be commenting on the matter. 

We are contacting all our local MPs for their views.