There have been many scandals surrounding Matt Hancock and during the pandemic, he even gained viral meme status when he went live on a TV channel to pretend to cry but ended up laughing instead. Today, it was found that Hancock acted unlawfully when his department did not reveal details of contracts it had signed during the Covid pandemic, a court ruled.
Matthew John David Hancock (born 2 October 1978) is a British politician serving as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care since 2018. He previously served as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in 2018 for six months. A member of the Conservative Party, he has been Member of Parliament (MP) for West Suffolk since 2010.
Hancock was born in Cheshire, where his family runs a software business. Hancock studied for a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Exeter College, Oxford, and an MPhil in Economics at Christ’s College, Cambridge, as a postgraduate student. He was an economist at the Bank of England before serving as a senior economic adviser and then later chief of staff to Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.
Hancock served as a junior Minister at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills from September 2013 to May 2015. He attended David Cameron’s Cabinet as Minister for the Cabinet Office from 2015 to 2016. After Theresa May became Prime Minister in 2016, Hancock was demoted to Minister of State for Digital and Culture. He was promoted to May’s Cabinet in the January 2018 cabinet reshuffle when he was appointed Culture Secretary. After endorsing Boris Johnson, he was retained in his cabinet in July 2019. He served as Health Secretary during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom and subsequent rollout of the UK’s vaccination programme.
Today, a judge said the health secretary had “breached his legal obligation” by not publishing details within 30 days of contracts being signed.
The public had a right to know where the “vast” amounts spent had gone and how contracts were awarded, he added.
The government said it fully recognised the “importance of transparency”.
But Labour claimed the government’s awarding of contracts was “plagued by a lack of transparency, cronyism, and waste”.
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has struck deals worth hundreds of millions of pounds during the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the law, the government is required to publish a “contract award notice” within 30 days of the awarding any contracts for public goods or services worth more than £120,000.
The Good Law Project also claimed that the government breached its own transparency policy, which requires the publication of details of public contracts worth more than £10,000.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Chamberlain said: “There is now no dispute that, in a substantial number of cases, the secretary of state breached his legal obligation to publish contract award notices within 30 days of the award of contracts.
“There is also no dispute that the secretary of state failed to publish redacted contracts in accordance with the transparency policy.”
The judge said the health secretary had spent “vast quantities” of public money on Covid-related goods and services during 2020.
“The public were entitled see who this money was going to, what it was being spent on and how the relevant contracts were awarded,” he added.
He said this was important so that competitors of those awarded contracts could understand whether the obligations had been breached. This only go to fuel theories that the Pandemic has led to government ministers using the epidemic as a situation to create wealth for themselves and friends.