London: Embattled UK Cabinet minister Matt Hancock on Saturday resigned as Health Secretary after he admitted to breaching Covid-19 lockdown rules with a kiss involving a close female aide.
Controversy erupted for the minister after CCTV images of the 42-year-old married Conservative Party MP were leaked where he was seen kissing Gina Coladangelo, 43, in his Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) office.
The visuals were recorded on May 6 much before the social distancing rules were eased on May 17 over close contact indoors for people from separate households. The pictures were published by The Sun newspaper on Friday along with the footage on its website.
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In a letter to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Hancock said the government “owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down”. He once again apologised for breaking the government guidance on social distancing from people outside a close household bubble.
In a video posted on Twitter, Hancock said: “I have been to see the Prime Minister to resign as secretary of state for health and social care. I understand the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country has made, that you have made, and those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I have got to resign.”
In his letter of resignation, Hancock wrote: “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.
“I want to reiterate my apology for breaking the guidance, and apologise to my family and loved ones for putting them through this. I also need (to) be with my children at this time,” he added.
This step is followed by mounting pressure on him from the Opposition as well as within his own Tory party to resign from his post for undermining people’s trust in the Covid lockdown guidance.
Campaign group “Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice” had dubbed Boris Johnson accepting his apology and declaring the “matter closed” on Friday, as a “slap in the face” for families who had lost loved ones to the pandemic.
On the other hand, Hancock is married to osteopath wife Martha for 15 years and they have three children together.
The CCTV footage of Hancock also revealed him to be having an extra-marital affair with married Gina Coladangelo who he hired as an advisor in an official capacity. The pair were reported to have been close as students since their days at Oxford University.
Hancock was appointed health secretary by former British Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018 and has held the post for nearly three years.
Meanwhile, former UK Chancellor Sajid Javid, Pakistani-origin Conservative Party MP, is set to replace him as Health Secretary, Downing Street informed.
(With Agency Inputs)