BBC News at Six has been ridiculed for reporting that Matt Hancock broke social distancing guidelines – without mentioning the word ‘cheating’ and only briefly mentioning his marriage.
Health Secretary Mr Hancock, 42, today failed to deny claims of a secret long-term affair after extraordinary images revealed his passionate clinch with millionaire lobbyist Gina Coladangelo, 43.
He was filmed rubbing her back and bottom during their workplace embrace. He has three children with his wife Martha, who he married in 2006.
In their television coverage of the explosive story this evening, viewers accused the BBC of ignoring the affair and focusing on his ‘hypocrisy’ for breaking social distancing guidelines despite ordering Britons to observe them.
The BBC later confirmed the news programme did mention the fact both Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo were married.
Britons piled on to social media during the show to express their frustration at the BBC’s priorities.
One wrote: ‘So it wasn’t adultery, merely an infringement of social distancing guidelines.’
Licence fee payers criticised the BBC today for appearing not to mention the fact that Matt Hancock had cheated on his wife in their News at Six report about him being caught passionately kissing a close aide
Another added: ‘It seems, according to BBC news, that the problem with Hancock is his breaking the social distancing rules, not what he was actually doing while breaking them.
‘What a bizarre world this has become.’
Speaking on the programme, the BBC’s deputy political editor Vicki Young said the most ‘damaging’ aspect of the story for the Government is the ‘hypocrisy’.
‘That idea that they’re somehow above the rules,’ she added.
But many others disagreed with the corporation’s decision to focus only on the fact he had broken social distancing guidelines.
As well as criticising the 6pm television coverage of the story, many others highlighted how the headline on the BBC’s main article about the story made no mention about Mr Hancock’s affair.
Britons piled on to social media during the show to pick up on the notable lack of focus on his marital status
Instead, it read: ‘Hancock admits breaking social distancing rules with aide’.
One user said: ‘So, the BBC concentrate on the breaking of social distancing rules and the Prime Minister, once again considers the matter “closed”.
‘I’m surprised they don’t have a recorded message for these events. We really don’t have any integrity in our government’.
Mr Hancock’s kiss with Mrs Coladangelo is alleged to have taken place in the corridor outside his office at the Department for Health’s headquarters in central London at around 3pm on May 6 this year – the day of the UK local elections and a week after his first coronavirus jab.
The identity of the Whitehall whistleblower who leaked the footage remains unknown.
A spokesman for the BBC said: ‘The report on the News at Six made clear that both Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo are married.
‘The coverage also examined the nature of Gina Coladangelo’s appointment to her position on the board of the Department of Health, as well as the fact that the Health Secretary broke the Government guidelines on social distancing that he helped to draw up.’
This is the image that has left Matt Hancock fighting for his job today. It appears to show him kissing his millionaire aide – who is on the public payroll – in the corridor outside his office in May this year
Mr Hancock said sorry for breaking social distancing and asked for ‘privacy’ for his family, but refused to resign as Health Secretary
The kiss was also 13 days before the Government relaxed safety regulations including giving permission to hug.
In an extraordinary statement in which he failed to mention his wife, Mr Hancock said today: ‘I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances.
‘I have let people down and am very sorry.
‘I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family on this personal matter.’
Boris Johnson has refused to sack Mr Hancock and has accepted his apology.
Others noted how the headline on the BBC’s leading article about the story failed to mention Mr Hancock’s affair. It read: ‘Hancock admits breaking social distance rules with aide’
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson now ‘considered the matter closed’ and refused to answer questions on whether Mr Hancock broke the law or ministerial code.
At the time the kiss image was captured, Mr Hancock is said to have checked the corridor is clear before closing the door, leaning on it to stop it opening before launching into their passionate embrace.
The Sun claims they have been having an affair that has been the talk of the department – but it is not known if they remain in a relationship that was a secret until today.
Mrs Hancock looked sad and upset as she left the couple’s home in north London this morning but didn’t speak to reporters about her husband’s alleged infidelity.
Her husband was nowhere to be seen, however, she was still wearing her wedding ring.
They were last seen together in public at the England vs Scotland Euro 2020 match at Wembley a week ago.
Communications director and lobbyist Mrs Coladangelo is a mother-of-three, whose husband Oliver Tress is the founder of clothing shop Oliver Bonas.
The shutters were closed at their £4.5million South London home this morning. She has been working as an advisor for Mr Hancock with one source saying: ‘Before Matt does anything big, he’ll speak to Gina’.
Mrs Coladangelo is friends with Matt Hancock’s wife on Facebook and they have spent time together socially.
A Whitehall whistleblower who leaked the footage and reportedly no longer works for the department, told The Sun it was ‘shocking that Mr Hancock was having an affair in the middle of a pandemic with an adviser and friend he used public money to hire’.
The alleged affair piles even more pressure on Mr Hancock, who was already reportedly battling for his job over his handling of the pandemic Dominic Cummings released WhatsApp messages from the PM that showed Mr Johnson branded him ‘f***ing useless’.
A solemn Martha Hancock walks the couple’s dog near their north London home today as he husband admitted he had ‘let people down’ but refused
Aside from the serious allegations of an affair, there will also be questions to answer about kissing someone outside his bubble during the pandemic and whether this breaches any of the Covid rules he has helped create.
Mr Hancock, who is yet to comment, has cancelled an event in his West Suffolk constituency this morning where he would have faced questions over the affair and whether he can keep his job.
He also deleted an Instagram post from last night where he said he ‘works with some brilliant women’.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said today it was an ‘entirely personal’ matter for his cabinet colleague.
He told LBC radio: ‘I have seen the photo but, as ever with private matters, I always try to avoid commenting on other people’s personal lives and I think I’ll stick with that tradition here.’
Asked whether the Health Secretary should have been ‘ignoring social distancing’, Mr Shapps replied: ‘I’m quite sure that whatever the rules were at the time were followed.
‘You’ll recall that there was a point at which social distancing rules were changed but, as I say, I don’t want to comment on somebody else’s private life – that is for them.’
The Health Secretary, 42, has been seen having a passionate clinch with millionaire lobbyist Gina Coladangelo (pictured here with Matt Hancock outside Downing Street in May), according to The Sun
Matt Hancock’s glamorous mother-of-three ‘lover’ Gina Coladangelo, 43, is married to the millionaire behind Oliver Bonas and boasts a string of celebrity friends
The woman Matt Hancock has been allegedly having an affair with is a millionaire communications director of fashion firm Oliver Bonas, which was the brainchild of her husband.
Gina Coladangelo works for the company her spouse Oliver Tress founded – while also being Mr Hancock’s closest aide. The mother of three, 43, is a major shareholder – as well as director – of the lobbying firm Luther Pendragon.
Mrs Coladangelo, who lives with her husband and their three children in South West London, appointment to the Department of Health in March 2020 by Mr Hancock sparked uproar due to her outside interests.
Mr Hancock and Mrs Coladangelo, who it was revealed last night have allegedly been having an affair, first met at Oxford University while working on student radio together.
She studied politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at Oxford between 1995 and 1998, the same as Mr Hancock.
Despite them knowing each other and apparently maintaining their friendship, Mr Hancock married Martha Millar in 2006, with whom he now has three children.
Mrs Coladangelo has been spotted leaving Downing Street with the Health Secretary on a number of occasions. A source told the Sunday Times last year: ‘Before Matt does anything big, he’ll speak to Gina. She knows everything.’
But her new role was not made public despite her getting access to £15,000 from the taxpayer.
She was an unpaid adviser for Mr Hancock but claims of ‘chumocracy’ emerged in November when it was revealed she was attending confidential meetings.
Mrs Coladangelo was made a non-executive director at the Department for Health in September. She shows off the role on her LinkedIn page and has to ‘oversee and monitor performance’.
She says: ‘I have over twenty years’ experience in business management and marketing and communications, with a focus on retail, healthcare, the third sector and energy.
‘Marketing expertise across media relations, consumer campaigns, social media, digital strategy, strategic collaborations, internal communications, issues management and public affairs.’
Away from work, Mrs Coladangelo has three children – Talia, Bruno and Layla. In 2012 she told the Daily Mail how she had returned to work while being a mother.
She paid for a live-in nanny at their home in south-west London and worked flexible hours.
Mrs Coladangelo said: ‘I don’t worry about my children being closer to their nanny, because I spend as much time as I can with them.
‘I would never dream of telling other mothers what to do with their lives. Every woman has to make her own choice.
‘But I feel very fortunate in my education and believe those years shouldn’t be wasted. I want to work to give something back.’
Her husband Oliver gave an interview to the Financial Times in November 2015 and spoke about their house. He said: ‘Our indulgence was moving to a bigger home in Wandsworth in September. We barely had a garden in Clapham, but the new house has a bigger garden and more space downstairs.
‘We might be able to build an extension. The mortgage will still be pretty considerable, as retail businesses are not necessarily throwing up a lot of cash. I am not a tycoon.’