Jacob Rees-Mogg had a Covid test for his son couriered to his home while there was severe national backlog, it has been revealed.
Leaked WhatsApp messages disclosed by Matt Hancock’s ghostwriter to the Telegraph show the communication between the former health secretary and an advisor about giving the Tory minister’s son preferential treatment.
The aide messaged Hancock to say the lab had “lost” the original test for one of Mr Rees-Mogg’s children, “so we’ve got a courier going to their family home tonight”.
He added: “Jacob’s spad [special adviser] is aware and has helped line it all up, but you might want to text Jacob.”
There was a backlog of 185,000 Covid tests waiting to be processed across the UK in September 2020. Rules in place at the time meant people had to isolate until a negative test was recorded.
Sarah Marsh, director of testing at NHS Test and Trace, had issued her “heartfelt apologies to anyone who cannot get a Covid test at present” only a few days before the test was couriered to Rees-Mogg.
Speaking to the Independent, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “This is yet more evidence that it’s one rule for Conservative ministers and another for everyone else
“The Covid inquiry must look into reports Conservative ministers were able to get priority access to tests at a time of national shortage.”
Rishi Sunak backed the official Covid inquiry today, saying it was the “right way” to scrutinise the handling of the pandemic after the extraordinary leak of messages.
The Prime Minister urged people not to focus on “piecemeal bits of information” after a trove of more than 100,000 WhatsApps linked to Hancock’s time as health secretary were revealed.
Hancock was considering legal action while strenuously denying claims he rejected advice to give coronavirus tests to all residents going into English care homes while health secretary.
Allies alleged the messages leaked by journalist Isabel Oakeshott after she was handed them by Hancock while working on his Pandemic Diaries memoir have been “spun to fit an anti-lockdown agenda”.
Hancock’s spokesman said claims he rejected clinical advice on care home testing was “flat wrong” because he was told it was “not currently possible” to carry out the tests.
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