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Matt Hancock Says Leaking Of WhatsApp Messages A ‘massive Betrayal’ As He Apologises To Colleagues – UK Politics Live

Matt Hancock says leaking of WhatsApp messages a ‘massive betrayal’ as he apologises to colleaguesGood morning. The Daily Telegraph has published another raft of stories based on Matt Hancock’s private Covid WhatsApp messages, filling the first nine pages of the paper. Here is my colleague Jessica Elgot’s story with the highlights.

This morning Matt Hancock has for the first time responded directly to the story. Yesterday his spokesperson issued a statement on his behalf, but this morning Hancock has put out a statement in his own name. He accuses Isabel Oakeshott, the journalist who gave the material to the Telegraph, of a “massive betrayal” and says he is “sorry” for the impact this has had on his colleagues (whose messages to Hancock are now also in the public domain).

He also denies a claim from Oakeshott that he sent her a menacing message in the early hours of yesterday morning, after the first Telegraph reports were published.

Here is his statement in full.

I am hugely disappointed and sad at the massive betrayal and breach of trust by Isabel Oakeshott. I am also sorry for the impact on the very many people – political colleagues, civil servants and friends – who worked hard with me to get through the pandemic and save lives.

There is absolutely no public interest case for this huge breach. All the materials for the book have already been made available to the inquiry, which is the right, and only, place for everything to be considered properly and the right lessons to be learned. As we have seen, releasing them in this way gives a partial, biased account to suit an anti-lockdown agenda.

Isabel and I had worked closely together for more than a year on my book, based on legal confidentiality and a process approved by the Cabinet Office. Isabel repeatedly reiterated the importance of trust throughout, and then broke that trust.

Last night, I was accused of sending menacing messages to Isabel. This is also wrong. When I heard confused rumours of a publication late on Tuesday night, I called and messaged Isabel to ask her if she had ‘any clues’ about it, and got no response. When I then saw what she’d done, I messaged to say it was ‘a big mistake’. Nothing more.

I will not be commenting further on any other stories or false allegations that Isabel will make. I will respond to the substance in the appropriate place, at the inquiry, so that we can properly learn all the lessons based on a full and objective understanding of what happened in the pandemic, and why.

Here is the agenda for the day.

10.30am: Penny Mordaunt, the Commons leader, makes a statment to MPs on next week’s business.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

11.30am: Rishi Sunak opens at an away-day for Conservative MPs at a hotel in Windsor, where they spend the day at presentations and seminars, before dinner. MPs are staying the night and there is another session tomorrow morning.

12pm: Boris Johnson is due to speak at a conference in Westminster on global soft power.

12pm: Nicola Sturgeon takes first minister’s questions at Holyrood.

I’ll try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you can email me at [email protected].

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