Hancock 'getting comeback for poor treatment of Professor Lockdown'

Ex-minister Alan Johnson says Matt Hancock’s resignation is ‘justified comeback’ for his shabby treatment of Neil Ferguson when ‘Professor Lockdown’ was caught breaking lockdown rules to meet his married lover

  • Ex-Labour home secretary said Hancock’s resignation was ‘justified comeback’ 
  • Ferguson quit Sage after lockdown trysts with married girlfriend were revealed
  • Johnson accused former health secretary of backing police probe into scientist
  • Said: ‘Matt Hancock didn’t have to pile in on Neil Ferguson. He chose to pile in’

Matt Hancock deserved to lose his job for a workplace affair after his shabby treatment of a Covid expert caught in a similar situation last year, a former minister said today.

Alan Johnson, an ex-home secretary for Labour, said Mr Hancock’s resignation was ‘justified comeback’ for the way he treated Professor Neil Ferguson last year.

Prof Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, stood down from Sage last May after it was revealed that his married girlfriend Antonia Staats had been visiting him at home.

It sparked accusations he had catastrophically ‘undermined’ the government’s position by flouting the strict coronavirus social distancing rules he helped draw up to have secret trysts.

At the time there were calls for him to face a police probe and Mr Johnson told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday  this morning: ‘I thought that when this Neil Ferguson issue arose, Matt Hancock didn’t have to pile in on Neil Ferguson.

‘He chose to pile in and say that Neil Ferguson … it was ”extraordinary behaviour” and that everyone had to obey the rules.

‘And he even went so far, although the police declared they were not going to take any action for this breach of law, Matt Hancock said ”if they do take action I will support them”. Talk about justified comeback.

‘When you do that to someone, a sage adviser who wasn’t even a Cabinet colleague, someone who couldn’t really answer back, you deserve everything you get.’

Alan Johnson, an ex-home secretary for Labour, said Mr Hancock’s resignation was ‘justified comeback’ for the way he treated Professor Neil Ferguson last year.

Prof Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, stood down from Sage last May after it was revealed that his married girlfriend Antonia Staats had been visiting him at home.

Mr Hancock bowed to growing pressure to go last night, less than 48 hours after pictures emerged of him in a passionate embrace with Gina Coladangelo at the Department of Health.

He told Boris Johnson in his letter of resignation that the Government ‘owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down’.

Now it has come to light that the former health secretary told his wife, Martha, he would be leaving her on Thursday night – immediately after discovering that his affair with Gina Coladangelo was about to be laid bare.

Images and video showed Mr Hancock in an embrace with aide Ms Coladangelo last month inside his private office, sparking intense pressure on him to quit over the breaking of social-distancing rules.

Friends said on Saturday night the pair had been seeing each other for around six weeks, but were a ‘love match’.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said today that Mr Hancock did not resign straight away because he ‘wanted to stay focussed’ on tackling coronavirus.

But he told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday Mr Hancock was right to quit after ‘taking that opportunity to look at the situation and to reflect’.

He rejected that Mr Hancock had only stood down because criticism from others had started to mount.

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