Hancock resignation: Who else has broken Covid rules and where are they now?
Matt Hancock has resigned as Health Secretary after he was pictured in an embrace with aide Gina Coladangelo last month, which broke his own coronavirus rules.
He will become a backbench Conservative MP, while former home secretary and chancellor Sajid Javid has been promoted to take over the DHSC lead role.
Which other political figures have been caught breaching the Government’s social distancing rules, and where are they now?
– Professor Neil Ferguson
Professor Neil Ferguson was the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) scientist whose work convinced the Prime Minister to enforce the first national lockdown – but he broke the rules just days after they were put in place.
The researcher, who warned that 250,000 people could die in the UK without drastic action, resigned from Sage on May 5 2020 after it emerged that he allowed a woman to visit his house in London when the Government’s key message was to stay at home.
Prof Ferguson allowed 38-year-old Antonia Staats to visit him at home in London at least twice during the lockdown, on March 30 and April 8 last year, according to the Telegraph.
Matt Hancock said he was left speechless by the breach, telling Sky News at the time: “It’s extraordinary. I don’t understand.”
He said Prof Ferguson was right to resign, adding it was “just not possible” for him to continue advising the Government.
Mr Ferguson has continued working as a researcher at Imperial College London’s faculty of medicine.
– Dominic Cummings
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser caused public outrage when he drove from London to County Durham with his wife and son during the first lockdown.
In a breach of restrictions, Mr Cummings travelled 250 miles to his parents’ property in Durham, after his wife developed coronavirus-related symptoms.
Despite calls for him to resign over the journey – which included a trip to local beauty spot Barnard Castle to check the quality of his eyesight – Mr Cummings was backed by the Prime Minister.
Mr Cummings defended his actions in a press conference in the Downing Street rose garden, saying he believed he behaved “reasonably” and did not regret his actions.
Six months later, on November 13, he was seen carrying boxes out of Downing Street as he left his job.
According to his blog, he now runs a company called Siwah Ltd which “tries to solve problems” in the areas of “management, politics and communication”.
– MP Margaret Ferrier
Margaret Ferrier, 60, had the Scottish National Party whip removed after it emerged she allegedly travelled from Glasgow to the House of Commons while waiting for the results of a Covid-19 test in September last year.
Ms Ferrier, who remains an independent MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton, was later charged with culpable and reckless conduct and appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court in February, but made no plea.
She was committed for further examination and released on bail.
– Stanley Johnson
The Prime Minister’s father, Stanley Johnson, said he was “extremely sorry” after being pictured shopping without wearing a face covering on September 29.
He was pictured in the Daily Mirror newspaper browsing the shelves at a newsagent’s in west London, seemingly breaking the rules by not covering his mouth and nose.
– Nicola Sturgeon
The First Minister of Scotland also apologised for a similar breach, telling the Scottish Parliament she had “no excuses” after being photographed in a bar not wearing a face covering.
A picture published in the Scottish Sun in December 2020 showed Ms Sturgeon chatting to three women while standing at a distance but without wearing a mask.
– Robert Jenrick
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary was forced to explain himself in April after travelling for more than an hour to visit his parents, despite warning people to remain at home.
Mr Jenrick was also criticised for travelling 150 miles from his London property to his Herefordshire home, from where he travelled to his parents’ home in Shropshire.
However, he defended his actions, saying he went to deliver food and medicine to his isolating parents, and he stayed in his cabinet post.
– Stephen Kinnock
The Labour MP was publicly shamed by police after travelling to celebrate his father’s 78th birthday on March 28 last year.
His father is former Labour leader Neil Kinnock.
After Mr Kinnock posted a photo on Twitter of himself, socially distanced, with his parents outside their home, South Wales Police replied: “We know celebrating your dad’s birthday is a lovely thing to do, however this is not essential travel.
“We all have our part to play in this, we urge you to comply with (lockdown) restrictions, they are in place to keep us all safe. Thank you.”
Mr Kinnock is still an MP for Aberavon in South Wales.
– Dara Calleary
The Irish agriculture minister resigned in August 2020 after attending an indoor golf society event with 80 other people – something Taoiseach Micheal Martin described as a “monumental” error of judgment.
Deputy chairman of the Irish Senate Jerry Buttimer, and EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan, also resigned from their posts for attending the same event.
Mr Calleary and Mr Buttimer became TDs in the Irish Parliament, while Mr Hogan has established a consultancy called Hogan Strategic Advisory Company, according to the Irish Times.
– Dr Catherine Calderwood
Scotland’s chief medical officer resigned in April 2020 after twice breaking lockdown restrictions in order to visit her second home, which was more than an hour away from her main residence in Edinburgh.
Despite Nicola Sturgeon backing Dr Calderwood to remain in her position, she ultimately decided to resign so as not to be a “distraction” from the Government’s social-distancing message.
She was reportedly appointed national clinical director of the new centre for sustainable delivery at the Golden Jubilee hospital in Clydebank in January this year.
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