House chiefs are charged with a cover-up today after admitting MPs broke a strict curfew on Covid tips – without saying whether Matt Hancock was among them.
The Sunday mail can show that an official investigation confirmed our revelations last week that MPs in a Commons bar drank beyond the 10 p.m. national time limit.
However, at an exceptional time, officials did not ask if the health minister was involved – despite claims by a senior Tory MP that he was there.
Mr. Hancock is under increasing pressure today to clear up his actions after the witness insisted, “I am 100 percent committed to my story. I know what I saw and when. & # 39;
Still, the Minister of Health has refused 30 times to say whether he has returned to the Commons Smoking Room Bar after a vote at 9:40 p.m.
House chiefs are charged with a cover-up today after admitting MPs broke a strict curfew on Covid tips – without saying whether Matt Hancock was among them
The Sunday mail can show that an official investigation confirmed our revelations last week that MPs in a Commons bar drank beyond the 10 p.m. national time limit. In an exceptional period of time, officials failed to ask if the Minister of Health was involved – despite claims by a senior Tory MP that he was there
Last night, former Labor MP John Mann, who is now an unaffiliated peer, said of the limited Commons investigation, “This is an air of cover-up. We in Parliament have an obligation to respect the rules that we have established for everyone in the country. But beyond that, we have an obligation to respect the rules. & # 39;
However, Charles Walker, the senior Tory MP who oversaw the curfew, claimed last night that it was "insidious" to have asked the Commons bar staff to name MPs who drink after 10pm.
The scandal brewed as:
- Stricter rules were introduced for more than ten million people in England when the areas in the new alarm system were one level higher.
- Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt faced a violent backlash after supporting the idea of a so-called circuit breaker lockout for two or three weeks. The scientists disagreed as to whether such a step would be worthwhile.
- The UK recorded 16,171 new coronavirus cases yesterday, a six percent increase from the previous Saturday, and 150 deaths for a total of 43,579.
- Police are reportedly gaining access to the details of people supposed to self-isolate while the NHS tracking app had more technical issues.
- Experts warned plans to move elderly hospital patients to special Covid-positive nursing homes would create "greenhouses" for infection;
- According to sources, Chancellor Rishi Sunak feared that Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham's call for more cash if the city were to be slammed into a tougher Tier 3 lockdown could put huge bills on the Treasury Department when other parts of the country were similar Make demands.
- University union leader Jo Grady has been criticized after accusing ministers of having a "perverse obsession" with Christmas in a restricted row on campus.
- Hotel industry experts warned of a staggering 750,000 possible job losses by February;
- Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson announced that his eldest brother had died of Covid-19.
- Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Northern Ireland saw a four-week ban on seated customers on the first weekend.
- Wales should announce two weeks of tighter restrictions.
Last Sunday's email revealed astounding claims that the health minister had violated his own curfew by drinking in the smoking room bar after 10 p.m.
We reported how Mr Hancock arrived at the MPs-only bar on Monday October 5, just before a vote at 9:40 p.m., ordered a glass of white wine and made a tasteless joke about Public Health England's nearly 16,000 positive coronavirus tests lost.
Former Labor MP John Mann (above) said of the limited Commons investigation last night: “This smells like cover-up. We in Parliament have an obligation to respect the rules that we have established for everyone in the country. But beyond that, we have an obligation to respect the rules. "
"The drinks are mine – but Public Health England is responsible for the method of payment so I won't pay anything," he was heard.
In a carefully worded statement made on his behalf, the Minister of Health made no attempt to deny that he had made the joke.
He has also admitted to being in the smoking room that night but claims "no rules have been broken" and claims he "left Parliament building to go home" after attending a Commons vote at 9:40 pm had participated.
However, his spokesperson refused to answer the simple question: did he get back to the bar before going home?
Since Mr Hancock's only official statement on this newspaper last weekend, we have sent his spokesman 30 more requests for comment, including emails twice a day and WhatsApp messages twice a day.
The speaker replied only three times and said only, "I would take you back to the previous statement I made."
Mr. Walker, chairman of the Commons Administration Committee, confirmed that some MPs broke the rules, saying, "It happened and it shouldn't have happened. It appears that drinks were consumed in the smoking room after 10pm that Monday night."
Commons spokesman Sir Lindsay Hoyle (pictured) banned the sale of alcohol in all Commons branches yesterday. However, earlier this week authorities responded to the curfew violation by putting a new sign on the bar with the rules for the curfew
He stressed that the rules in force in the House of Commons at the time – in line with the curfew for all pubs and restaurants – were that bars should be empty by 10 p.m. when people were drinking alcohol. However, he defended the decision not to determine which MPs were guilty, saying it would have been "insidious" to ask the Common to do so.
However, Sir Alistair Graham – former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life – said, “I don't know that should be the case. If they are trying to apply rules rigorously, why not ask staff which MPs they have served? & # 39;
Commons spokesman Sir Lindsay Hoyle yesterday banned the sale of alcohol in all Commons branches. However, earlier this week authorities responded to the curfew violation by putting a new sign on the bar with the rules for the curfew.
However, a source complained that some MPs might ignore staff "because they see themselves as older than them".
Mail on Sunday comment
Here is a very simple question that the answer is either "yes" or "no". It reads: "Has Health Secretary Matt Hancock returned to the smoking room of the House of Commons after voting at 9:40 p.m. on Monday, October 5th?"
The Sunday mail reported this to Mr. Hancock almost 30 times in the past week and received no such response.
This is the same Matt Hancock who enacted the decrees that closed or brutally restricted restaurants and pubs across the country and ruined their trade in curfews and rigid, inflexible closings.
On behalf of all those who have built such businesses with long hours of risk and hard work who are now broke, and on behalf of those whose jobs in the hospitality industry are being wiped out, we demand that Mr. Hancock respond and finally show him if he can obeys its own rules.
13 days later, Tory Whistleblower is still firmly convinced that Matt Hancock violated the curfew
By BRENDAN CARLIN, Sunday Mail political correspondent
We reported how Mr Hancock arrived at the MP-only bar on Monday, October 5, just before a vote at 9:40 p.m., ordered a glass of white wine (file picture) and made a tasteless joke about the loss of nearly 16,000 positive coronavirus tests made by Public Health England
In a voice that trembled with indignation, the senior Tory MP on the end of the line said he had something pretty amazing to tell me – and that he was absolutely certain of the details. "I saw him," he exclaimed. "I saw the Minister of Health, the man who told the rest of the country how to behave and broke his own rules on the Covid curfew."
The day before, said my mole, who could barely imagine the scene in front of him, he had seen Matt Hancock drink in a commons bar after the 10pm curfew. In fact, he told me the health minister would be there until 10:25 p.m.
Mr. Hancock, the Cabinet Secretary most determined to put ever more restrictions on the rest of us? Same thing, said the source. And he did so in a week of mounting anger as the 10pm rule crippled pubs and restaurants and threatened to put many out of business.
There was something else, said the MP. Mr. Hancock had rolled into the soft, wood-paneled Smoking Room bar first to fetch his sneaky swallow with a joke, a tasteless one.
Over the decades, the bar has been known for its conviviality and lively discourse – a place where political giants held court in armchairs that once belonged to William Gladstone. On one memorable night, Winston Churchill and Nye Bevan debated hotly what was the crucial time in British history. The Reformation, argued Winston; the civil war, insisted Nye.
BUT on Monday, October 5th, according to my source, Mr. Hancock – not necessarily many people's idea of a political giant – had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the private label Commons and behaved "like a mime lady", happily shining the light of day made potentially catastrophic loss of 16,000 positive virus tests just hours after sadly told the Commons how the bug should never have happened.
"The drinks are with me – but Public Health England is responsible for the payment method, so I won't pay anything," Mr Hancock is said to have cracked wisely.
The whistleblowing MP called me shortly after 6 p.m. the following day – and he has not changed a word of his testimony since then.
We first addressed our questions in a phone call to Mr. Hancock's special advisor shortly after 10 a.m. last Saturday morning, followed by a detailed email. It took him five hours to get an answer.
It came in the form of a statement, concise, legalistic and very carefully worded. "The proposed schedule for events is wrong and no rules have been broken," he said. “The Foreign Minister was in the smoking room that evening before the vote. The foreign minister left the smoking room to vote. The vote took place at 9.42 p. M. The foreign minister then left Parliament's estate to go home. "
But there was an obvious gaping hole in the statement – the fidget room so loved by politicians. Did Mr. Hancock return to the bar before going home? And what about that tasteless joke that the statement completely ignored?
Mr Hancock himself was back in the dispatch box on Tuesday afternoon, providing an ideal opportunity for opposition MPs to challenge him about the curfew. Nobody did
Last Saturday we immediately went back to Hancock's special advisor for clarification on these questions, but we received no response.
Our deadline came and went, but we were still able to publish a powerful cover story that led to an investigation into the incident, with questions raised at the highest level in the House of Commons.
The email from Sunday has now contacted Mr. Hancock's office 30 times to get clear answers – without success. Only three times did Mr. Hancock's spokesman reply, each time simply referring us to the original statement.
No. 10 has since remained particularly quiet. One observer compared Downing Street's response to the affair last weekend to that of a rubbernecking driver crawling past a car accident and saying, "Oh, this looks bad" – but he didn't intervene. Instead, Hancock's advisors had to try to bluff their way through on their own.
In the past week I have returned to the Senior MP several times. Could he be wrong? Absolutely not. He was 100 percent sure of his facts – and angry at what he saw as Hancock's dissimilarity.
Last Tuesday – 48 hours after our original story – there was a fascinating development. Suddenly a sign appeared in the smoking room with the inscription: “Last orders at 9.45pm. The venue must be vacated by 10 p.m. "
Was that a crooked comment on the Hancock affair? In other words, did he have a drink before the 10 p.m. curfew and continued to drink after that?
In recent weeks, Hancock has been under heavy pressure due to the perceived serial incompetence of his department, not just from Labor but also from Tory MPs who believed he was an economically destructive "lockdown fanatic".
A leading medical doctor accused him of “responding with irritated disdain to reasoned arguments” – a description that could easily apply to the case.
Last week, The Mail spoke to fellow Tory MPs on Sunday who were in the bar that Monday night. They privately admitted that drinking had taken place after 10 p.m. but did not want to know if Mr. Hancock was in the bar at the time.
Mr Hancock himself was back in the dispatch box on Tuesday afternoon, providing an ideal opportunity for opposition MPs to challenge him about the curfew. Nobody did.
Lib Dem health spokeswoman Munira Wilson, who harshly condemned Mr. Hancock's joke reported over the weekend, at least dared to remark that he "appeared to be joking about (test failures) in the smoking room".
Privately, Tory MPs say Hancock allies accused them of his innocence and groaned that he was "sewn up".
Since Tuesday evening we have also given the Minister of Health the opportunity to reject the joke, but he failed to do so.
On Wednesday, Charles Walker, the Tory chairman of the Commons Administration Committee that oversees the bars, confirmed to the newspaper that MPs actually drank after 10 p.m. in the smoking room last Monday. But this was a guilty verdict with a difference – no named culprits.
Mr Walker lamely insisted that it would have been unfair – even "insidious" – to have asked staff to find out which MPs pushed it back after hours.
On Thursday, the spokesman announced that all alcohol sales in commons bars would be completely banned from this weekend to prevent another violation of the rules. Farcically, but MPs will still be able to get a drink – by walking down the corridor to the Lords, which has no such ban.
In the meantime, Mr. Hancock's spokesman has maintained radio silence.
In a quaint Westminster tradition, at the end of the day the Commons doorkeepers shout, "Who's going home?"
In the case of Mr. Hancock, you might think of recording the time.
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