Matt Hancock said he is victim of a “massive betrayal and breach of trust” after the disclosure of WhatsApp messages revealing the inside working of government during the coronavirus crisis.
The former health secretary also apologised for the impact of the release of the message on those he had worked with during the pandemic.
Hancock gave the messages to journalist Isabel Oakeshott as they collaborated on his memoirs, but she subsequently handed them to the Daily Telegraph, which has published a series of stories based on the correspondence with fellow ministers and officials.
Oakeshott said she was threatened by Hancock in a late-night message after the newspaper began publishing its stories. He has refuted the claim.
Hancock said: “I am hugely disappointed and sad at the massive betrayal and breach of trust by Isabel Oakeshott.
“I am also sorry for the impact on the very many people – political colleagues, civil servants and friends – who worked hard with me to get through the pandemic and save lives.”
He said there was “absolutely no public interest case for this huge breach” because all the material used for his Pandemic Diaries book was given to the Covid-19 public inquiry.
Explaining the message he sent to the journalist, he said: “Last night, I was accused of sending menacing messages to Isabel. This is also wrong.
“When I heard confused rumours of a publication late on Tuesday night, I called and messaged Isabel to ask her if she had ‘any clues’ about it and got no response. When I then saw what she’d done, I messaged to say it was ‘a big mistake’. Nothing more.”
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