Stunning footage of Matt Hancock playing cricket in his office has resurfaced after claims he was mimicking being a star batsman at the height of the pandemic.
A former top official this week revealed how the then health secretary claimed in early 2020 that he “loved” the responsibility of leading the NHS during the worst crisis in its history.
Helen MacNamara, who was deputy cabinet secretary between 2020 and 2021, also described how Mr Hancock took the position of a batsman during the bizarre Downing Street incident.
She claimed he told her: “You throw them at me, I push them away.”
In her statement to the Covid inquiry yesterday, Ms MacNamara said she included the anecdote in her witness statement because it showed the “nuclear extent” of hubris shown by Mr Hancock during the Covid pandemic.
She also told the inquiry that Mr Hancock had a questionable record with the truth and often insisted things were “absolutely fine” when they were “very, very far from fine”. .
Footage of Matt Hancock playing cricket in his office has resurfaced after claims he was mimicking the role of a star batsman at the height of the Covid pandemic
The film was shot in May 2019, less than ten months before the UK went into its first Covid lockdown. Mr. Hancock is seen throwing both the bat and the ball into the air during the game
The video, released to mark the start of the Cricket World Cup this summer, ends with Mr Hancock lamenting that the ball was lost behind a cooler
The footage sparked a number of negative comments from social media users at the time. One called it “tragic,” while others compared it to TV shows “Alan Partridge” and “The Office.”
Following Ms MacNamara’s statement, a social media video was unearthed showing Mr Hancock playing cricket with staff in his Department of Health office.
The film was shot in May 2019, less than ten months before the UK went into its first Covid lockdown. Mr. Hancock is seen throwing both the bat and the ball into the air during the game.
In footage focusing solely on the then-cabinet minister, Mr Hancock is shown trying to make forward defensive and backward strikes as his staff stand awkwardly at the edge of the room.
He was also filmed making catches, including a diving attempt in which he threw himself to the ground and nearly collided with a white sofa.
The video, released to mark the start of the Cricket World Cup this summer, ends with Mr Hancock lamenting that the ball was lost behind a cooler.
It sparked a number of negative comments from social media users at the time. One called it “tragic,” while others compared it to TV shows “Alan Partridge” and “The Office.”
Ms MacNamara’s statement to the Covid inquiry on Wednesday came after it emerged that Mr Hancock had been called a “s***” and a “proven liar who nobody knows” in foul-mouthed WhatsApp messages from former No10 adviser Dominic Cummings “believes” was branded.
Appearing before the inquest, Ms MacNamara said there was a pattern of having Mr Hancock “assure you that something was absolutely fine” before determining it was “far from fine”.
She said the former health minister had told Cabinet colleagues “again and again” without “any ambiguity” that plans were in place during the pandemic, but that turned out not to be the case.
Andrew O’Connor KC, counsel for the inquiry, asked: “Is it fair to say that you were surprised and disappointed when you realized that what he had said was not actually true?”
“I was surprised, yes,” Ms MacNamara replied.
In her witness statement to the inquiry, the former top civil servant said that “the usual systems of government in Whitehall rely on people’s honesty” and suggested that those working in government did not trust Mr Hancock.
Asked if she thought Mr Hancock was saying things that weren’t true, she told the inquiry: “That’s definitely the view in government.” I think it’s fair to say that’s what it is we have experienced.
“It means that what was said in a meeting was actually under control or was going to be delivered or that something was OK, then later, sometimes a few days or sometimes weeks later, we found out that it was. “ “That is indeed not the case.”
Ms MacNamara’s witness statement also described how she once asked Mr Hancock in April 2020 if he needed additional support after he had recently recovered from Covid and returned to Downing Street.
Mr O’Connor read from the statement: “He assured me that he ‘loves responsibility’ and to demonstrate this he assumed the stance of a batsman outside the Cabinet Room and said: ‘You throw it at me, I bat.’ them away.””
Asked why she included the anecdote in her statement, Ms MacNamara told the inquiry: “I’m trying to explain how disturbing some of it was.” This partly goes back to my point of view about confidence in nuclear weapons , which I think is a problem. It really stuck with me in that moment.’
She added: “It was important to me at the time, so I thought it was important to include it in that way. ‘It’s more about confidence than anything else.’
Asked whether she meant confidence or overconfidence, Ms MacNamara replied: “Yes, overconfidence.”
Mr O’Connor said: “You tried to talk to Mr Hancock about the incredibly distressing scale and impact of the decisions he had to make and the impact of those decisions on the lives of everyone in the country.” And he thought ‘He would play cricket.’
Ms MacNamara replied: “I assumed it would weigh heavily on his shoulders.” He may tell you it was, and he felt it was important to project something else instead.
“I don’t know, I just know how I experienced it.”
Helen MacNamara, one of Britain’s most senior civil servants during the coronavirus crisis, revealed how Mr Hancock said he “loved” the responsibility of leading the NHS during the pandemic crisis
Mr Hancock has been criticized for displaying “nuclear levels” of hubris during the coronavirus outbreak
Asked why she included the cricket anecdote in her witness statement, Ms MacNamara told the inquiry: “I’m trying to explain how upsetting some of it was.”
Ms MacNamara also suggested in her witness statement to the inquiry that government officials did not trust Mr Hancock
It emerged Mr Hancock was branded a “s***” and a “proven liar who no one believes” in foul-mouthed WhatsApp messages from former No 10 adviser Dominic Cummings
Ms MacNamara, who was the senior officer responsible for decency and ethics, was fined following the Met Police’s “Partygate” investigation into illegal lockdown gatherings in Downing Street.
She attended a farewell party for a Number 10 officer in June 2020 – when indoor social gatherings of two or more people were banned – and provided a karaoke machine for the event.
In his own statement to the inquiry this week, Mr Cummings described how he had urged then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson to sack Mr Hancock in the summer of 2020.
“In my opinion this was one of his worst and most unforgivable decisions,” Mr Cummings said.
“The Prime Minister knew and expressed often over the summer not only what a terrible job Hancock had done, but also how dishonest he was.”
“If we had replaced Hancock before August, things like rapid testing would have gone more smoothly, planning would have been more honest and effective and thousands would have survived.”
A spokesman for Matt Hancock said: “Mr Hancock has supported the investigation throughout and will answer all questions when he gives his statement.”