Matt Hancock claims WhatsApp ‘medical’ leak ‘fits anti-lockdown agenda’

Matt Hancock has claimed his “doctored” WhatsApp messages from the height of the pandemic were “twisted to fit an anti-lockdown agenda”.

The Telegraph has obtained more than 100,000 messages between Mr Hancock and other ministers and officials, which form the basis of The Lockdown Files.

The revelations include rejecting advice from Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, to test all residents going to English care homes for Covid.

Professor Sir Chris Whitty told Mr Hancock on April 14, 2020, about a month into the pandemic, that there should be tests for “everyone going into nursing homes”.

However, he did not follow this guidance and despite initially telling civil servant Alan Nixon to “act” on the advice, he said later that day that it was “muddying the waters”.

Instead, it introduced guidelines making testing mandatory for those entering care homes from a hospital setting, but not for those from the community.

“Distorted Account”

A spokesman for Mr Hancock released three statements after the former health secretary’s messages were handed over to the Telegraph by Isabel Oakeshott, the political journalist who received copies of his messages while working on his memoir Pandemic Diaries.

The spokesman said on Monday night: “It is outrageous that this distorted account of the pandemic is being promoted by a few leaks, spun to fit an anti-lockdown agenda that would cost hundreds of thousands of lives if followed through.

“What the messages show is that many people are working hard to save lives. The full documents have already been made available to the inquiry, which is the appropriate place for an objective assessment so that real lessons can be learned.”

In a second statement, the spokesman said: “Having been approached in advance by the Telegraph, we reviewed the messages overnight. The Telegraph deliberately omitted a report of a meeting with the testing team from WhatsApp.

“This is critical because Matt supported Chris Whitty’s advice, held a meeting about his deliverable, said it was not deliverable and insisted on testing everyone coming from hospitals. The Telegraph has been told that their title is wrong and Matt is considering all the options available to him.

“Not possible” for testing

“This major mistake by Isabel Oakeshott and the Telegraph shows why the proper place for analysis like this is the Inquiry, not a partial, agenda-driven leak of confidential documents.”

The start of the public inquiry into Covid was delayed last month by a secrecy row, as families of the dead protested the names of civil servants being redacted from documents.

In a third statement, given on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the spokesman said Mr Hancock had “enthusiastically accepted” Sir Chris’s request for tests at the care home but had been “advised that it was not currently possible to test everyone entering care homes’ at a meeting. later that day.

“Matt concluded that testing people leaving hospital for nursing homes should be prioritized because of the higher risks of transmission, as it was not possible to mandate (that) everyone going into care homes be tested (sic )”.

“The Telegraph has corrected the messages by excluding a key line from Alan Nixon’s text. Nixon says “I was not in a test meeting,” which changes the context of the meeting depicted in the article.

“The stolen messages have been redacted to create a full story that Matt rejected clinical advice about tests at the care home. This is completely wrong… The Telegraph story is wrong, based on a few, spin leaks – and they didn’t approach Matt before publication.

“We all deserve to learn”

A source close to Mr Hancock added that he was “considering all options” in relation to Ms Oakeshott, the political journalist who was given copies of his messages while working with him on his Pandemic Diaries memoir.

“A legitimate NDA has been broken. Her behavior is outrageous,” the source said.

Writing in the Telegraph on Tuesday night, Ms Oakeshott explained her reasons for releasing the information, saying the public “can’t wait any longer for answers”.

He added on Twitter: “The Lockdown Files is the biggest government data leak since the MPs’ expenses scandal in 2009, shedding new light on issues such as care home deaths, lockdowns, exams, school closures and face masks. We all deserve to learn.”

Fraser Nelson, the editor of the Spectator magazine and a columnist for the Telegraph, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the messages “were not stolen, as Matt Hancock says, but given by him to Isabel Oakeshott, who was the author of the memoir of”.

“So she is in possession of one of the most unusual sources ever to fall into the hands of journalists… This tells you what was being said behind closed doors during the pandemic, at one of the most critical points in British history.

“He generally decided that it was better to make these (messages) public because the millions of people affected by these decisions deserve answers and that’s what journalists do.”

(tags For Translation) UK News

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