Nick Robins rages a ‘naive’ Matt Hancock over leaked WhatsApp messages

Sky News read Matt Hancock’s response after leaks

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Nick Robinson this morning blasted Matt Hanock’s “poor judgement” after more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages sent between him, other ministers and officials at the height of the Covid pandemic were leaked. The messages were released by journalist Isabel Oakeshott after she worked on his Pandemic Diaries memoir.

But BBC journalist Mr Robinson said it showed “massive evidence of poor judgement” that Mr Hancock “chose to give” the messages to Ms Oakeshott.

During an interview with Lord Bethell on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Robinson said: “Shouldn’t Matt Hancock be answering these questions?”

Lord Bethell replied: “That’s a decision for Matt. This is a hell of a blow to have someone breach your confidence like that and I would completely understand why he doesn’t want to step up for that.”

Mr Robinson said: “But Matt Hancock gave messages, gave, chose to give, messages to a journalist, a journalist whose views he knew.

“She’s now using them in a way he didn’t expect but naive doesn’t do justice to it, it’s massive evidence of poor judgement isn’t it?”

Lord Bethell said: “I think Isabel is a terrific journalist, she’s not a very good friend.”

The messages, published in a Telegraph investigation, suggested Mr Hancock rejected advice to give coronavirus tests to all residents going into English care homes.

But a spokesman for the former health secretary has denied the “distorted account”.

The spokesman said: “It is outrageous that this distorted account of the pandemic is being pushed with partial leaks, spun to fit an anti-lockdown agenda, which would have cost hundreds of thousands of lives if followed.

“What the messages do show is a lot of people working hard to save lives.

“Those who argue there shouldn’t have been a lockdown ignore the fact that half-a-million people would have died had we not locked down.

“And for those saying we should never lock down again, imagine if a disease killed half those infected, and half the population were going to get infected – as is happening right now with avian flu in birds. If that disease were in humans, of course we’d want to lockdown.”

The spokesman for Mr Hancock said he is “considering all options” in response to the leak.

A source close to him added of Ms Oakeshott: “She’s broken a legal NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Her behaviour is outrageous.”

Ms Oakeshott, who has described lockdowns as an “unmitigated disaster”, said she was releasing the messages because it would take “many years” before the end of the official Covid inquiry, which she claimed could be a “colossal whitewash”.

She said: “That’s why I’ve decided to release this sensational cache of private communications – because we absolutely cannot wait any longer for answers.”

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