Rishi Sunak has told MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) that he backs an investigation of Matt Hancock after a leak of WhatsApp messages.
The Telegraph claim that during an investigation that England’s chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty had told Hancock who at the time was the Health Secretary in April 2020 there must be Covid testing of everyone “going into care homes.”
The then Health Secretary described it as “obviously a good, positive step, however the WhatsApp messages from 14 April 2020 suggests that Hancock had rejected the guidance.
It is alleged that Hancock told an aide the move to test them for Covid before going into care homes “muddies the waters” and mandatory testing only applied to those who were leaving hospital.
Those who back Hancock say that there was a lack of testing at the time and it was not possible to test everyone who was going into a care home.
During PMQs the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called on the Prime Minister to ensure the investigation has all the support required to “report by the end of this year.”
Starmer added, “Families across the country will look at this, and the sight of politicians writing books portraying them as heroes will be an insulting and ghoulish spectacle for them.”
Sunak said, “Rather than comment on piecemeal bits of information, I’m sure the honourable gentleman will agree with me the right way for these things to be looked at is the Covid inquiry.
“There is a proper process to these things, it is an independent inquiry, it has the resources it needs, it has the powers it needs and what we should do in this House is to let them get on and do their job.”
A spokesman for Hancock said, “These stolen messages have been doctored to create a false story that Matt rejected clinical advice on care home testing. This is flat wrong.”
Hancock had on 14 April “enthusiastically accepted” the advice, however, “later that day he convened an operational meeting on delivering testing for care homes where he was advised it was not currently possible to test everyone entering care homes, which he also accepted.”
The spokesman added, “Matt concluded that the testing of people leaving hospital for care homes should be prioritised because of the higher risks of transmission, as it wasn’t possible to mandate everyone going into care homes got tested.
“He went as far as was possible, as fast as possible, to expand testing and save lives.
“This story categorically shows that the right place for this analysis of what happened in the pandemic is in the inquiry.”