POLITICS
21/02/2021 09:17 GMT

Matt Hancock Trolls Sky News Over Kay Burley Lockdown Breach

Awkward.

Matt Hancock has responded to questions over whether people can go on holiday this summer back by appearing to troll Sky News.

The health secretary was speaking on the channel’s Ridge on Sunday show, ahead of Boris Johnson laying out his plan to lift coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Monday.

Asked whether people will be able to go on holiday in summer given the new target to vaccinate all adults by the end of July, Hancock replied: “I know everybody at Sky News is keen to be able to get back to having parties.

He went on: “All of us understandably want us to get back to normal but it is right to be cautious.”

Hancock appeared to be referring a birthday night out presenter Kay Burley shared with colleagues in December in breach of Covid safety rules.

Burley was taken off air for six months following an internal review and political editor Beth Rigby and north of England correspondent Inzamam Rashid were also taken off air for three months after attending the bash.

They had been celebrating Burley’s birthday in London, while the capital was under tier 2 restrictions.

All three apologised at the time.

During the pandemic, Burley has repeatedly grilled politicians on lockdown and Covid restrictions. In May she famously quizzed cabinet minister Michael Gove on the controversy over Dominic Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle.

Meanwhile, Hancock rejected suggestions he should resign after the High Court found that his Department for Health and Social Care unlawfully failed to publish details of billions of pounds’ worth of coronavirus-related contracts.

In a ruling on Friday, Justice Chamberlain said: “There is now no dispute that, in a substantial number of cases, the secretary of state (Hancock) breached his legal obligation to publish contract award notices within 30 days of the award of contracts.”

Responding, the health secretary said: “We published the details of all these contracts that we had to publish absolutely and quite rightly.

“On average we published them just over a fortnight later than they should have been.

“The reason is there was a global shortage of PPE, we needed to buy PPE to save lives, and my officials with my full support spent every waking hour buying PPE so that even though we came close, we never actually ran out of PPE in this country.

“And they did that even though the paperwork got delayed by on average just over a fortnight.

“That’s what the court found and I and I think any secretary of state in that position would absolutely back my officials in doing the right thing - saving lives.”