Matt Hancock has apologised for breaking social distancing guidance when kissing his aide, even though the law at the time suggests such gatherings were not allowed.
The Health Secretary was pictured embracing his aide Gina Coladangelo on May 6 in what appears to be CCTV footage from inside the Department for Health and Social Care.
Legislation in place at the time stated that “no person may participate in a gathering” that “consists of two or more people… and takes place indoors.”
The only exception to this rule was for “work purposes or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services”.
It is unclear whether Mr Hancock believes his embrace was part of a work meeting.
Guidance in place until May 17 also said people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble.
Human rights barrister Adam Wagner said that it appeared there had been a breach of the regulations.
He told BBC News: “I am pretty clear, although you never know for sure, that there was a breach of the regulations, on the basis that at the time it was illegal to have any gathering of more than one person anywhere indoors unless an exception applied.
“The only one that could reasonably be said to apply or possibly said to apply would be that this was reasonably necessary for work purposes.
“But based on what we know and what we can see in the images, it doesn’t seem that that was reasonably necessary for work purposes.”
Specifically regarding workplaces, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had guidance in place at the time saying they must be kept Covid-secure.
It said social distancing “means keeping people apart to help reduce the spread of coronavirus”, adding: “Where possible, you should keep people 2m apart. If this is not possible, consider additional control measures.”
The additional measures that could be used if social distancing was not possible included deciding “if the activity can be stopped” and keeping “the activity time as short as possible”.
The workplace should also be organised “so that people are side-by-side or facing away from each other rather than face-to-face”.
Efforts should also be made to “reduce the number of people in close proximity in the work area” and “consider if workers can stay in one place or at one workstation when working”.
BREAKING: More embarrassment for Matt Hancock as he misinterprets the meaning of ‘hands, face, space’.— Have I Got News For You (@haveigotnews) June 25, 2021
I do wish, when these stories happened, that journos would leave the partner of the cheating politician alone. They’re having a very shit day. There is zero public interest, in the formal sense, in their reaction. Just leave them be.— Ian Dunt (@IanDunt) June 25, 2021
I just hope Matt Hancock didn’t experience a lack of personal protective equipment when it was needed most.— Jason (@NickMotown) June 25, 2021
Today is the perfect day to discover the exact moment people wake up, simply by looking at the time under their first Matt Hancock tweet.— Richard Osman (@richardosman) June 25, 2021
What a terrible morning to have eyes pic.twitter.com/yxbiGbmDdB— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) June 25, 2021
I see Murdoch has decided it’s time to get rid of Matt Hancock.— Paul Bernal (@PaulbernalUK) June 25, 2021
Quick-thinking Suffolk MP saves aide’s life with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation https://t.co/AeuRBxF90Y— James O’Brien (@mrjamesob) June 25, 2021
Eat out to help out pic.twitter.com/ctPZ2lzIMQ— Jon Holmes (@jonholmes1) June 25, 2021
Having once seen Matt Hancock dancing at an awards show, let me tell you George Michael was absolutely bang on when he said guilty feet have got no rhythm.— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) June 25, 2021
Fuck sake!— joe heenan (@joeheenan) June 25, 2021
He was just licking her tonsils to check his eyesight! pic.twitter.com/Zdrrztcooa
I can see where all that money went on PPE pic.twitter.com/uw3Kxvnu5e— Ben Leslie (@BenLeslie1) June 25, 2021
It could be worse. pic.twitter.com/MVAU6HoSdE— Countess O’Sulick (@OSulick) June 25, 2021
Little reminder…— Marina Purkiss (@MarinaNigrelli) June 25, 2021
This is Matt Hancock in May last year
Telling Sky News that Professor Neil Ferguson was right to resign after breaking lockdown rules to have an affair pic.twitter.com/0Fc7nOpkso
I was right. pic.twitter.com/IUB02DKhVQ— Rhys James (@rhysjamesy) June 25, 2021
A married minister hiring & shagging a mate is not about his ‘private life’. Any more than it is when a married mayor of London’s mistress trousers public funds & goes on foreign jollies paid for by mugs like you & me. They all know this, of course, even as they pretend not to.— James O’Brien (@mrjamesob) June 25, 2021
Gina Coladangelo has today been named as Matt Hancock’s mistress.— ?????? (@pearlylondon) June 25, 2021
Apparently a few others applied for the position but she knew a friend of his second cousins pub landlord’s sister so it was her who got the contract.
[radio 4 thought for the day voice] and in a way, haven’t we all been fucked by Matt Hancock— James Felton (@JimMFelton) June 25, 2021
When you’ve got it, flaunt it. pic.twitter.com/mEVtsibALK— trouteyes (@trouteyes) June 25, 2021
the saddest part of the Matt Hancock affair story is that it’s totally overshadowing One Britain One Nation Day— Matthew Champion (@matthewchampion) June 25, 2021
What’s the best Matt Hancock meme you’ve seen so far?— Rachel (@OpenMindMH) June 25, 2021
Let’s spread some joy!
This is mine pic.twitter.com/1EHkzCVIFN
I hate Matt Hancock with a passion but today I thank him for the reason behind these wonderful memes that have entertained me all day long pic.twitter.com/l2PdRRF72f— Danni (@dannitaylor___) June 25, 2021
HanCOCK when his wife saw the CCTV pic.twitter.com/aQq5wOnhvu— Smudger (@UnitedSmudge) June 25, 2021
All I could think of when I saw that Matt Hancock photo. pic.twitter.com/iaVjp2WVgE— Chris Thomson (@lammy_pie) June 25, 2021