Former British Health Secretary Matt Hancock is at the center of criticism after his leaked Whatsapp messages showed him discussing with an aide when to reveal the existence of the Kent variant of COVID-19. They seem to be discussing the dates of when to release the news to ensure people comply with lockdown rules.
In another chat, the head of the Civil Service, Simon Case, suggested that the "fear/guilt factor" was vital to the government's messaging. The leaked chats were published by the Sunday Telegraph show. More than 100,000 WhatsApp conversations were leaked by journalist Isabel Oakeshott, a publicly vocal critic of lockdowns.
Matt Hancock responded to the leaks by releasing a statement to the public. In the statement, he referred to the backlashing messages as a "partial, biased account to suit an anti-lockdown agenda."
Netizens filled with rage as Matt Hancock's leaked chats go viral
Matt Hancock is facing severe backlash from the public. As a former health secretary, many believe he didn't do his duties properly, and even "joking about this is preposterous." Others want him in jail, so they get the justice they deserve for being injected with "chips," as Hancock says.
Several people are calling Hancock's behavior cruel, evil, selfish, and sadistic. The leaked conversations sparked several online debates, but the majority stayed against the former health secretary.
Matt Hancock's statement to the press regarding the leaked messages
In a leaked text conversation between Matt Hancock and an aide, the health secretary seems to be discussing when to "deploy" the announcement of the new variant to the public. The exchange occurred on December 13, 2020, five days before the government decided to scrap plans to relax the rules.
In a statement responding to the leaked chats, Hancock said:
"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."
In an interview with the BBC, Chris Heaton-Harris, the government's Northern Ireland secretary, said that the messages seem to give "almost a view into the psyche of Mr Hancock rather than into the actual decision-making."
"I think viewers would expect that politicians being human beings would express things in a human way."
Ann Widdecombe, a former Conservative MP on Radio 5 Live with the BBC channel, said that she had been "just as much against lockdown as Isabel Oakeshott" but found the leaks "profoundly unhelpful."