UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been caught having an affair with one of his millionaire university chums, Gina Coladangelo, whom he appointed as an aide using taxpayer money.
This is bad news, obviously, for Hancock’s wife and children. But it’s great news for everyone else because it raises the heartwarming possibility that Hancock, by some margin the most hated minister in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet, may finally be booted out of the Cabinet.
Clearly having affairs is not in itself a sackable offence: if it were Johnson himself would not have kept any of his political appointments for more than about 10 minutes. But what the story does do, most definitely, is expose Hancock to the charge of egregious hypocrisy. For over 18 months now, he has been the man on the television screen ordering the whole of Britain under virtual house arrest with almost everyone, on his orders, forbidden from mingling with anyone outside their household bubble on pain of huge fines.
Yet here is Hancock, caught on CCTV images leaked to The Sun flagrantly breaching these rules, with his viper’s tongue down the throat of Gina Coladangelo who most definitely isn’t in his household bubble because she’s married to Oliver Tress, the millionaire founder of the fashion and homeware chain Oliver Bonas.
Hancock has issued an apology today saying:
I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances. I have let people down and am very sorry.
But with luck it won’t be enough to save him. There is little love lost between the Prime Minister and Hancock. In some recent leaked texts, Johnson allegedly described Hancock as ‘totally fucking hopeless‘.
Also, it comes in the wake of the G7 Summit hypocrisy in which a scandalised British public were appalled to see world leaders and their spouses mingling freely without the masks or social distancing which the UK government has insisted on imposing on the general populace. Then, to add insult to injury, visiting dignitaries at the UEFA football championships have been given similar preferential treatment. This does not accord well with the British sense of fair play.
That CCTV footage of Hancock snogging his married mistress with one of his octopus hands straying round her waist will only serve to confirm in the minds of the much put-upon public that there is one rule for the ‘elite’ and another for the rest of us.
It recalls a similar scandal last year when another of the main architects of lockdown, computer modeller Neil Ferguson, was caught playing away from home — and in breach of lockdown regulations he promoted — with his mistress. The public was not impressed with Professor Pantsdown‘s antics. But Ferguson got away with it: after briefly being suspended as a member of the government’s SAGE committee, he was back in his job as a government adviser within weeks. Perhaps this is what emboldened Hancock: if Professor Pantsdown can do it, why not me?
If he doesn’t resign or get sacked, then it’ll be interesting to feel the temperature of tomorrow’s march.
These protests have been so peaceful so far, and long may they continue to be so, but there is a palpable anger in the air, over Hancock, UEFA vips and the G7 jollies.
— Laurence Fox ✌🏼✌🏼 (@LozzaFox) June 25, 2021
To make matters worse, the British public have been paying for Hancock’s fancy woman in a number of ways.
As the Sun reports:
Matt Hancock secretly appointed Coladangelo to the Department of Health and Social Care as an unpaid adviser on a six-month contract in March last year… Hancock appointed Coladangelo as a non-executive director at DHSC, meaning that she is a member of the board that scrutinises the department.
There was no public record of the appointment, which was set to see her earn at least £15,000 of taxpayers’ money, potentially rising by a further £5,000.
Then, as the Sun goes on to report, there are those lucrative government contracts which have benefited Colandangelo’s clients:
Luther Pendragon, the lobbying firm in which she is a director, boasts clients who have secured lucrative contracts during the pandemic, including British Airways and Accenture, which received £2.5m to help build the NHS Covid-19 app.
It certainly looks as if Coladangelo got pretty decent returns for having submitted to the horror of engaging in sexual activity with the weird and creepy Hancock.
Officially the government’s position is that Hancock won’t lose his post because of his indiscretion. The Prime Minister, who is no stranger to a little slap and tickle himself says he considers the “matter closed”.
But the timing of the leak is curious, to say the least. Those CCTV shots were taken in May. Perhaps it was felt that delaying their release till now, in the wake of the leaked ‘totally fucking hopeless’ text, might make their effect more devastating to Hancock’s prospects. We can but hope so.