‘Incompetent’ Matt Hancock skewered by readers for Covid mishandling

Isabel Oakeshott was sent ‘menacing message’ from Matt Hancock after leak

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Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s actions during the coronavirus pandemic have come into question following the leaking of over 100,000 WhatsApp messages by journalist Isabel Oakeshott. Now, a new Express.co.uk poll has found that two-thirds of readers think he was negligent in his handling of Covid.

The messages, which were published by the Daily Telegraph’s Lockdown Files Team, allege Mr Hancock rejected advice from medical experts and suggested to an aide that the Government “frighten the pants off everyone” by revealing the existence of a new strain.

Ms Oakeshott was given access to Mr Hancock’s messages to help uncover the “truth” behind the handling of the pandemic during her work with Mr Hancock on his book, Pandemic Diaries, which was published last year.

She defended her decision to share the messages on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week. On Thursday, March 2, she told host Nick Robinson: “My responsibilities, having finished the book with him are now to the public interest… That’s a matter of public record.”

In response to the leaks, Mr Hancock released a statement, which read: “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.”

He continued: “As we have seen, releasing them in this way gives a partial, biased account to suit an anti-lockdown agenda.”

In response, Express.co.uk asked readers (in a poll that ran from midday on Wednesday, March 1, to 11am on Monday, March 6): “Was Matt Hancock negligent in the handling of Covid?”

Overall, 4,366 readers responded with the majority, 66 percent (2,862 people), answering “yes” Mr Hancock was negligent.

Whereas 31 percent (1,366 people) said “no” he was not, and a further three percent (138 people) said they did not know either way.

Hundreds of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers shared their thoughts on Mr Hancock’s handling of the pandemic.

Many readers were in agreement that Mr Hancock was negligent, with username deadharry writing: “Yes he was, the deaths of thousands of pensioners in care homes was through incompetence”.

Similarly, username Saoutchik said: “[Boris] Johnson and Hancock’s self-interest resulted in the needless deaths of tens of thousands of people.”

Username val12 said: “Sadly the whole thing was mishandled.”

Writing in an opinion piece for The Telegraph, former boss of the Covid vaccines taskforce, Dr Clive Dix, compared Mr Hancock to a “headless chicken” and was critical of his desire to set public targets.

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He wrote: “He didn’t take time to understand anything. He was all over the place, a bit like a headless chicken.”

While other readers argued that the former Health Secretary was not solely responsible. Username HolyMoses wrote: “No point singling out Hancock.”

Username BozoTheClown said: “He was not alone. The whole of SAGE…is all equally culpable for the botched response.”

Another, username skeptikar, commented: “Not just Hancock the whole Government led by Boris Johnson. It’s unfair that Hancock should be the fall guy for Johnson.”

Likewise, username wilfred01 said: “Matt along with all the other ministers were taking advice from the scientists. The plain fact is the scientists were not up to the job.”

And username Deemacky said: “One man should not shoulder the responsibility alone. I think the hospitals should take some of the blame too. They should have been prepared for this type of thing.”

However, username snowleopard said: “Everyone tried their best, and pulled out all stops. What we need to be judging is the whole process, and pick out the best and adjust anything where a better method can be found – and set this for the future.

“Decisions were made in good faith, to help us. We should not be bullying, playing political games.”

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