UK health secretary apologizes over violating social distancing norms – 25/06/2021 – world

A huge headache prompted UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, 42, to cancel his official appointments this Friday morning (25), and the cause was not Sars-Cov- 2 or one of its variations, but photos of steamy scenes published on the cover of The Sun newspaper.

The footage shows the secretary hugging and kissing her counselor Gina Coladangelo, 43, a former classmate he hired last year, and was taken on May 6, 11 days before hugs – and other hugs closer – between people from different families released by the government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In a statement, Hancock said on Friday: “I admit that I violated the direction of social distancing under these circumstances. I let people down and I’m so sorry.

Director of a London-based lobbying firm, Gina Colangelo was appointed an unpaid advisor by Hancock, then selected for a position with an annual salary of £ 15,000 (around R $ 105,000) for around 20 working days a year. She is also director of communications for Oliver Bonas, a department store chain selling clothing, jewelry, housewares and beauty products, founded by her husband.

Although government colleagues such as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said this morning that the matter was personal and that Coladangelo’s selection process went through all normal government steps, Hancock is under fire from the Labor Party, who asked for his dismissal.

“Ministers, like everyone else, have a right to privacy. However, when taxpayer dollars are involved or jobs are offered, it needs to be investigated, ”the acronym said in a statement.

Party chairwoman Annaliese Dodds also said that maintaining a relationship in her office with someone the secretary himself has appointed and who is paid by the taxpayer “is a flagrant abuse of power and a conflict of obvious interests “. “His position is desperately untenable. Boris Johnson should fire him,” said the opposition leader.

Hancock, however, said in his statement that he intends to continue in this role: “I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic and I would be grateful for my family’s privacy in this matter. personal. ”

Cath Haddon, senior analyst at the Institute for Government, said on social media that a potential source of conflict of interest would be the fact that under UK administrative rules ministers are responsible for the conduct of special advisers who work for them — which can be a problem if they are in a relationship.

Last year, one of the country’s leading epidemiologists, Neil Ferguson, resigned his post as government adviser on the fight against the coronavirus after being caught breaking lockdown to visit a girlfriend. At the time, Hancock told the British press that the rules against contagion should be followed by everyone.