British Health Secretary Matt Hancock apologized Friday after a front-page expose showed him kissing an aide — saying he was “very sorry” for breaking his social-distancing rules — rather than cheating on his wife.
Hancock released a short statement amid calls for his resignation Friday after the Sun printed CCTV images that it said showed him smooching Gina Coladangelo, 43, whom he hired last year with taxpayers’ money.
“I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances,” the 42-year-old politician said of the images, one of which showed him grabbing Coladangelo’s behind as they kissed.
“I have let people down and am very sorry,” Hancock said in a statement, while insisting he would stay on.
“I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family on this personal matter,” he said.
His statement made no mention of Martha, his wife of 15 years, who was photographed wearing dark sunglasses to hide her eyes soon after the story broke early Friday, but still wearing her wedding ring.
The reported “steamy clinch” was caught on CCTV images at the Department of Health’s London HQ in Whitehall last month, the Sun said.
The shots were given to the UK paper by a whistleblower who alleged that the pair have regularly been caught in clinches together.
The source said it was “shocking that Mr. Hancock was having an affair in the middle of a pandemic with an adviser and friend he used public money to hire.”
“They have tried to keep it a secret but everyone knows what goes on inside a building like that,” the source told the Sun.
Hancock — already under fire for his handling of the pandemic — faced swift calls for his resignation.
The opposition Labour Party called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to fire Hancock, saying his position was “hopelessly untenable.”
“If Matt Hancock has been secretly having a relationship with an adviser in his office — who he personally appointed to a taxpayer-funded role — it is a blatant abuse of power and a clear conflict of interest,” said Anneliese Dodds, chair of the opposition Labour Party.
“The charge sheet against Matt Hancock includes wasting taxpayers’ money, leaving care homes exposed and now being accused of breaking his own COVID rules,” she said.
“He set the rules. He admits he broke them. He has to go. If he won’t resign, the PM should sack him,” Dodds tweeted after Hancock’s apology.
However, Johnson insisted via his spokesman that his health secretary still has his full confidence.
“The prime minister has accepted the health secretary’s apology and considers the matter closed,” the spokesman said.
With Post wires