Secret recording revealed
Javid to hasten lockdown easing after Hancock quits
Sajid Javid takes on key health brief from Matt Hancock
Former Chancellor and Home Secretary Sajid Javid is expected to push for a rapid reopening of the economy after replacing disgraced Health Secretary Matt Hancock over his affair with a close aide.
Mr Hancock admitted he could no longer continue in the post after his relationship with an adviser was revealed in a tabloid newspaper. It has been reported that a member of his staff secretly recorded him in his office.
Mr Javid, who resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer in February 2020 when he learned of plans to dismiss his backroom staff, will now take on the important task of steering the fight against the pandemic which Mr Hancock has overseen since the outbreak emerged.
His appointment was seen as a positive for the economy as he shares the current Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s enthusiasm for getting back to “normal” more quickly than Mr Hancock whose departure came just days after a video emerged showing him in his office embracing his adviser Gina Coladangelo last month.
It is understood he was brought down by a whistleblower in his department who secretly recorded him in a clinch with Ms Coladangelo on 6 May.
The whistleblower then approached lockdown sceptics and asked them to help sell the footage to the media, according to the Mail on Sunday.
He was heavily criticised, not so much for the affair, but for breaking social-distancing rules which he has insisted the public follow.
Ms Coladangelo, a mother of three, is communications director at Oliver Bonas, the fashion and lifestyle store founded by her husband Oliver Tress.
She is also a director and major shareholder at lobbying firm Luther Pendragon.
Mr Hancock appointed her as his unpaid adviser on a six-month contract in March last year. In September he appointed her as a non-executive director at DHSC, making her a member of the board that scrutinises the department. On Saturday night it was stated that she will be leaving that post.
They first met at Oxford University in the early 2000s but Mr Hancock married Martha Hoyer Millar in 2006.
Mr Hancock released a resignation video on social media in which he said: “I’ve been to see the Prime Minister to resign as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
Mr Hancock making his statement in a resignation video
“I understand the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country have made, that you have made. And those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I’ve got to resign
“I want to thank people for their incredible sacrifices and what they’ve done. Everybody working in the NHS, across social care. Everyone involved in the vaccine programme. And frankly everybody in this country who has risen to the challenges that we’ve seen over this past 18 months.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve done to protect the NHS and the peak, to deliver that vaccine rollout – one of the fastest in the world – and I look forward to supporting the government and the Prime Minister from the backbenches to make sure that we can get out of this pandemic.
“We’re so close to the end – and then build back better so that this country can fulfil its potential – which is so great – and I will do that with all of my heart.”
Mr Johnson said Mr Hancock should “leave office very proud of what you have achieved”.
Mr Hancock had been critical of government adviser Neil Ferguson when he was caught out visiting a friend with whom he was having an affair at the height of the lockdown.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was right for Mr Hancock to resign, but the Prime Minister should have sacked him.
It emerged later on Saturday that after discovering on Thursday that his affair was about to be exposed by The Sun newspaper, Mr Hancock told his wife that he would be leaving her.
They were last seen together in public at the England vs Scotland Euro 2020 match at Wembley.
The couple have two sons and a daughter.