UK minister should have been fired over COVID, says Johnson's ex-adviser

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock walks on Downing Street, in London, Britain May 20, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) -British health minister Matt Hancock should have been fired for lying in government meetings on COVID-19, Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s former top adviser Dominic Cummings said on Wednesday.

“I think that the Secretary of State for Health (Hancock), should have been fired for at least 15, 20 things including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the cabinet room and publicly,” Cummings told a parliamentary committee.

He said he had told Johnson to fire Hancock.

Asked for an example, Cummings said Hancock had said that all patients got the treatment they needed during the first peak of the virus. Cummings said that was contrary to briefings from the government’s health experts, who had said some patients had not received the necessary treatment.

He also said Hancock had told ministers that the supply of personal protective equipment was under control in April, but that had later proved not to have been the case.

Neither Hancock’s department or his adviser immediately commented.

Cummings, who said Johnson had come close to removing Hancock from his job in April last year, criticised the health minister’s role in the establishment of an expanded coronavirus testing system.

He also told the committee that the country’s top civil servant had told him he had lost confidence in Hancock’s honesty, and had also relayed those concerns to Johnson.

Asked in parliament whether those concerns had been relayed to him by the head of the civil service, Mark Sedwill, Johnson said: “The answer to that is no … and I’m afraid I haven’t had the benefit of seeing the evidence that he’s (Cummings) bringing to the house.”

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