Matt Hancock routinely ‘used private email account for government business’

Matt Hancock has reportedly used private email account for government dealings since March 2020

Chantal da Silva
Sunday 27 June 2021 09:49
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Matt Hancock is reportedly facing an investigation after using a personal email account to conduct government affairs, in breach of UK guidelines.

According to The Sunday Times, the former health secretary, who resigned from his role on Saturday, regularly used a private email account for government dealings, thereby concealing information from officials and potentially from the public.

The Times said it had obtained documents proving Mr Hancock had routinely been using his personal email since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began.

The disclosure was reportedly revealed in minutes from a meeting between senior officials at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

David Williams, the department’s second permanent secretary, warned that Mr Hancock “only” deals with his office “via Gmail account”.

Mr Williams said the health secretary did not even have an official email as he warned that the government could not freely access personal email records, with the “threshold” for requesting them having “to be substantial”.

He also said that junior health minister Lord Bethell also used a personal email account for government business.

The alleged breach of guidelines would mean that the government does not have records on all of Mr Hancock’s exchanges, including key negotiations on multimillion-pound contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) and emails setting up the £37 billion test and trace programme.

Mr Hancock’s private email exchanges also would have included talks on the government’s widely criticised care homes strategy.

In a statement, a DHSC spokesperson said: “All DHSC ministers understand the rules around personal email usage and only conduct government business through their departmental email addresses.”

Mr Hancock had a departmental email address since becoming health secretary, according to the department. As did Lord Bethell.

The development comes after Mr Hancock resigned as health secretary for breaching social distancing guidelines by kissing an aide amid growing concerns over the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant.

Mr Hancock had faced pressure to resign from his role after The Sun published images of the then-health secretary and non-executive director of the Department of Health Gina Coladangelo kissing, with both being married with children.

The newspaper said the photos had been taken inside the Department of Health’s offices on 6 May, amid raised concerns around the Delta variant, which was first identified in India.

In his resignation letter, Mr Hancock told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the government “owe it to the people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down”.

He reiterated an apology for “breaking the guidance” and apologised to his family for “putting them through this”.

Mr Johnson said he was “sorry” to receive the resignation letter.

Sajid Javid is set to replace Mr Hancock as health secretary, with the former chancellor saying he is “honoured” to take on the role.

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