Dominic Raab has insisted that Boris Johnson followed the rules when not wearing a mask at a hospital visit in Northumberland, despite hospital guidance suggesting otherwise.
The justice secretary was presented with images from the prime minister’s visit during a BBC interview on Tuesday, where Johnson can be seen greeting nurses and doctors at Hexham General Hospital without a mask.
Presenter Sally Nugent told Raab everyone in the images was wearing a mask and asked him what type of message Johnson’s appearance sent out.
‘The right thing to do’
“I know the prime minister took the advice of the clinical setting that he was in and followed all the protocols and procedures that were applied there and that’s what everyone should do,” Raab said.
Pushed by Nugent to say whether it was a good look to not wear a mask, he insisted it is “the right thing to do” to “take the advice you have and follow the guidance carefully” – but insisted “that is what the prime minister did”.
Nugent proceeded to read Raab a quote from the Northumbria NHS Trust which said “anyone attending our hospitals and community settings must continue to wear a face covering at all times to protect patients, visitors and staff.”
That did not seem to convince Raab of any wrongdoing on the prime minister’s side. “My understanding is that the prime minister followed all the guidance that was given to him from the moment he was at the hospital and obviously in the different settings that he visited and that’s right,” he insisted.
Johnson absent from debate after Owen Paterson scandal
Johnson was controversially absent from a heated sleaze debate this week, where MPs discussed the Tories’ attempt to overhaul the independent MPs’ watchdog in light of the Owen Paterson scandal.
A Downing Street spokesperson claimed Johnson would not be able to attend the debate because was visiting a hospital in Northumberland and his train would not return to London in time.
But journalists were quick to point out that the prime minister took a private jet only last week in order to make it in time for a dinner with former Daily Telegraph writers.
Johnson cares ‘nothing’ about rules – Caroline Lucas
Last week, Green MP Caroline Lucas slammed Johnson for caring “nothing” about Parliamentary standards, decency and the rule of law.
Lucas admitted she ran out of ideas on how Johnson can be held to account, saying Johnson is “the judge, the jury and the court”.
She also indicated Tory MPs were “dragooned” into supporting an amendment which would have prevented the immediate suspension of former Tory MP Paterson following an investigation into his conduct.
Paterson was found to have repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials for two companies paying him more than £100,000 per year, but the government U-turned in its plan to protect him after facing public backlash.