15:25 GMT24 July 2021
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    Former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock lost his job after a steamy embrace with his aide Gina Coladangelo was caught on leaked CCTV, forcing him to acknowledge having breached the coronavirus-induced social-distancing rules.

    New UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid appeared to take a swipe at his predecessor Matt Hancock on Thursday afternoon.

    Hancock was forced to quit his position in the wake of a scandal that erupted after he was caught on CCTV footage kissing and embracing his aide at his Whitehall office.

    ​Five-time Cabinet minister Javid, who replaced the MP last month, made a joke about the surveillance camera, which had thrown Hancock into the limelight.

    As he addressed the Local Government Association’s virtual conference on 8 July from Hancock’s former office at the Department of Health, he asked dialing in councilors:

    “I hope my camera is on, is my camera on? I mean, the one on my laptop, not the one in the ceiling.”

    The panel responded with a flurry of chuckles.

    On a roll, Javid appeared to aim several more jabs at Hancock, as he revealed that he “hadn't found it easy” being on the “sidelines” of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

    He also quipped that the UK had not witnessed a Health Secretary that “actually had experience in local government” in 100 years.

    Earlier, the newly-minted Health Secretary liked one of the plethora of memes triggered by reports that Javid himself might have installed the camera to swipe the rug from under Hancock.

    Illicit Affair

    Matt Hancock was forced to resign on 28 June after the The Sun’s publication of the leaked scandalous video.

    The footage of the ex-Health Secretary and his aide Gina Coladangelo, captured in early May, showed the couple engaging in an illicit affair and flagrantly flouting social distancing rules issued by his own Ministry.

    A friend of Hancock dating to their Oxford University days, Coldangelo had been brought in by him initially as an unpaid aide. However, she ultimately received a taxpayer-funded job as a non-executive director. Questions have since been asked regarding the woman’s privileged parliamentary access, as Hancock had provided her with a pass through his office from June 2019 to February 2020, before her term as an unpaid adviser started

    Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock smiles during a television interview as his aide Gina Coladangelo looks on, outside BBC's Broadcasting House in London
    © REUTERS / TOM NICHOLSON
    Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock smiles during a television interview as his aide Gina Coladangelo looks on, outside BBC's Broadcasting House in London

    While the two have kept a low profile since their affair made the headlines, Coladangelo is reported to have left her husband Oliver Tress, founder of the Oliver Bonas retail chain, while Hancock, whose political future remains uncertain, is said to have separated from his wife Martha.

    ‘Security Concerns’

    Serious apprehensions have also been raised about national security in the wake of the bombshell footage. Ministers voiced outrage over the presence of security cameras in their offices that they were unaware of, with a review launched at the end of June into where security cameras are placed in DHSC.

    As he spoke on the second day after replacing Hancock, the former Home Secretary and Chancellor Javid confirmed the recording device in his office had been disabled.

    Javid added it was “common sense” there should be no cameras in ministers’ offices.

    ‘Wall of Defence’

    Meanwhile, speaking about the pandemic developments at the Local Government Association conference Sajid Javid revealed he was “very comfortable” with proceeding with the “emergence from lockdown” set for 19 July.

    While conceding that there would be “a lot” more cases of the coronavirus infection, particularly due to the spread of the Delta variant of the virus, he said:

    “We feel very comfortable with the plans we have set out, despite the rise we are going to see in infections. I think they are going to be a lot higher by July 19 than they are today, I think into August they are going to be even higher than that. But it's the vaccine that's working and that's what gives us the confidence. The vaccine is doing its job, it truly is a wall of defence we've built.”

    Addressing the fears of those who cautioned against lifting restrictions, he added:

    “I'd ask them to think... if you don't start opening now, then when?”

    Related:

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    UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid Says COVID-19 Restrictions Will Be Lifted On 19 July Despite 'Risk'
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    COVID-19, coronavirus, Matt Hancock, Sajid Javid
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