‘Can we lock him up?’ Matt Hancock’s team considered action against Nigel Farage
Aides for Matt Hancock asked if they could ‘lock up’ former UKIP leader ‘pub hooligan’ Nigel Farage in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, leaked WhatsApp messages show.
The former Health Secretary is said to have wanted to discuss possible quarantine breaches by the politician ‘urgently’, and asked his office to get in touch with the Home Office to investigate, the Telegraph reports.
In June 2020 Mr Farage travelled to the USA to meet with then-President Donald Trump, tweeting photos of himself enjoying the trip while the vast majority of the UK was unable to leave the country.
On July 4 he tweeted a video of himself in his local pub in Downe Village, Kent, exactly two weeks after he had attended a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The revelation comes after ghostwriter of Mr Hancock’s book Pandemic Diaries Isabel Oakeshott handed more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages from his communications to the newspaper.
Mr Farage shared photos of him in America while the vast majority of the UK were unable to leave the country
Members of Matt Hancock’s team suggested ‘locking [Mr Farage] up’, leaked WhatsApps show
At the time of his visit, anyone who entered the UK from abroad was required to quarantine for 14 days, or face a hefty fine.
According to the leaked messages, Mr Hancock shared a link to a news report about the possible breach of quarantine regulations with members of his ‘top team’, writing: ‘We need to discuss this urgently’.
Aide Jamie Njoku-Goodwin responded to the Health Secretary: ‘Does he count as a pub hooligan? Can we lock him up?’
A civil servant is also said to have suggested referring the matter to Priti Patel, who was Home Secretary at the time.
Mr Hancock then asked his aide to ask the Home Office whether they were ‘considering it’, the paper reports.
According to the leaked messages, Mr Hancock shared a link to a news report about the possible breach of quarantine regulations with members of his ‘top team’, writing: ‘We need to discuss this urgently’. Aide Jamie Njoku-Goodwin responded to the Health Secretary: ‘Does he count as a pub hooligan? Can we lock him up?’ A civil servant is also said to have suggested referring the matter to Priti Patel, who was Home Secretary at the time. Mr Hancock then asked his aide to ask the Home Office whether they were ‘considering it’, the paper reports
Nigel Farage travelled to the US in June 2020, where he attended rallies for Donald Trump
Two weeks later he posted a video of himself in his local pub, and has since admitted his actions were ‘probably’ in breach of quarantine rules
Several minutes later Mr Njoku-Goodwin responded: ‘Just spoken to HO spads [Home Office special advisors].
‘Sounds like we need to get PHE [Public Health England’ to do one of their “spot checks” and prove that he isn’t at home.’
Mr Hancock then asked his team to ensure Mr Farage’s case was dealt with ‘like any other’ by the Home Office.
Representatives for Matt Hancock have been contacted for comment.
At the time of his return from the US, Mr Farage maintained he had waited the full two weeks before going to the pub, and added he had received a negative Covid-19 test result.
But speaking to the Telegraph today, he said: ‘If I was being honest with you, after the first set of lockdowns I wasn’t really prepared for some little pipsqueak like Matt Hancock to tell me how to live my life, quite frankly.’
He added: ‘It was pretty nip and tuck… which means I probably was in breach. I’m probably a Covidiot.’
Mr Farage reportedly received three visits from police officers during the pandemic.
At the time, Mr Farage claimed he had waited the full two weeks and had received a negative test result
Journalist Ms Oakeshott shared the huge trove of messages with the paper after Mr Hancock gave her unprecedented access to his communications in order to work on his pandemic memoir.
A source close to the former Health Secretary, who had to step down after having been found in breach of his own coronavirus restrictions, said Ms Oakeshott had broken a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) by sharing the messages.
She also accused Mr Hancock of sending her a ‘threatening’ text late on Tuesday night, following the first batch of bombshell revelations.
Mr Hancock denied doing so but described her actions as a ‘massive betrayal and breach of trust’.
Quizzed about how she would describe her behaviour towards Mr Hancock on BBC Radio 4 today, Ms Oakeshott said: ‘What I’m not going to do, because it wouldn’t be pretty, is get involved in a slanging match with Matt Hancock.
‘He can threaten me all he likes.
‘There are plenty of things I can say about his behaviour, by the way, that I’m not going to do, at least not at this stage, because this is not about Matt Hancock, it is so much bigger than that.
‘Trust me, there’s plenty I can say.’
In a statement on Thursday night, Mr Hancock told MailOnline: ‘I am hugely disappointed and sad at the massive betrayal and breach of trust by Isabel Oakshott.
‘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.’
A crisis in testing and PPE turned care homes into ‘warzones’ in late March 2020, as the nation was plunged into lockdown
Sir Chris Whitty (left) told then health secretary Matt Hancock (right) there should be testing for ‘all going into care homes’ but this guidance was rejected, leaked messages reveal
Leaked messages seemingly showed Mr Hancock rejected the Chief Medical Officer’s call to test all residents going into English care homes for Covid at the start of the pandemic.
Mr Hancock’s representatives have vehemently pushed back against this ‘distorted’ impression saying he was ‘supportive of’ Whitty’s advice but was told it was ‘undeliverable’ – although he insisted on testing those coming from hospitals.
They have also raised questions about decisions made concerning the reopening of schools, the efficacy of shielding and the use of face masks by children.
It was revealed last night that Mr Hancock described teaching unions as ‘absolute a**es’ at the height of the pandemic in a conversation with then-Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
Mr Hancock messaged Sir Gavin to congratulate him on a decision to delay A-level exams for a few weeks, as teachers prepared to reopen schools after the first lockdown.
‘Cracking announcement today. What a bunch of absolute a**es the teaching unions are,’ he wrote.
Sir Gavin responded: ‘I know they really really do just hate work.’
Mr Hancock responded with two laughing emojis, and a third which showed a dart on the centre of a target.
Sir Gavin later added: ‘Some [schools] will just want to say they can’t [open] so they have an excuse to avoid having to teach, what joys!!!’
Following publication, Sir Gavin tweeted that his comments had been ‘about some unions and not teachers’.
He added: ‘I have the utmost respect for teachers who work tirelessly to support students.
‘During the pandemic, teachers went above and beyond during very challenging times and very much continue to do so.’