‘Drinks cold in fridge at DH!’ Leaked message from Matt Hancock’s aide-turned-lover Gina Coladangelo sparks questions over ‘Covid testing target’ celebration in the Department of Health at the height of lockdown in May 2020
- Huge cache of Covid messages between government figures have been leaked
A leaked message from Matt Hancock’s aide-turned-lover Gina Coladangelo has sparked questions over whether there was a Department of Health celebration at the height of Covid lockdown.
The huge cache of messages obtained by the Telegraph reportedly includes one sent by Ms Coladangelo on May 1, 2020, seemingly to a group of officials.
Hailing that the government had ‘smashed’ its target for boosting Covid testing capacity, she said: ‘Drinks cold in the fridge at DH. Feel free to open them before we are back.’
Ms Coladangelo – at that point a non-executive director at the department – added an emoji of two beer glasses clinking.
Mr Hancock gave the daily Covid briefing in Downing Street that evening, and the message was seemingly sent while it was still under way.
Sources close to the ex-health secretary said he was not present but ‘people had a drink at their desk in a socially distanced way, after they hit a major target’.
They insisted there was ‘no evidence of any parties in the department’.
The huge cache of messages obtained by the Telegraph includes one sent by Ms Coladangelo on May 1, seemingly to a group of officials
Mr Hancock gave the daily Covid briefing in Downing Street that evening, and sources say he was not present when some staff ‘had a drink at their desk in a socially distanced way’
A government spokeswoman did not respond to the specific question, but said: ‘We have always said there are lessons to be learnt from the pandemic.
‘We are committed to learning from the Covid inquiry’s findings, which will play a key role in informing the government’s planning and preparations for the future.’
At the time no social gathering was allowed unless it was ‘essential for work purposes’.
The Metropolitan Police issued fines over the notorious ‘BYOB’ gathering in Downing Street on May 20, 2020. However, the May 1 event is not thought to have been considered by police or in Whitehall’s Sue Gray report.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: ‘These messages raise a number of questions about the conduct of Conservative Ministers during lockdown, including whether there was even more drinking and partying going on than is already known about.
‘There cannot be one rule for them and another rule for everyone else.
‘The families of those who lost their lives during the pandemic deserve the truth.’
Lib Dem health spokeswoman Daisy Cooper said: ‘These revelations look like yet another insult to the sacrifices the British public made throughout the lockdowns.
‘The allegation that another illegal gathering may have been covered up is hugely concerning. Rishi Sunak must ensure that these revelations are investigated without delay – with no stone left unturned.
‘The Conservative Government has lost all credibility with years of sleaze stories coming out.’
Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo leave Downing Street after the press briefing on May 1, 2020
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