Calls for probe into Covid ‘cronyism and contracts’

Ian Murray said the resignation of Matt Hancock has given the opportunity to reflect on 'huge problems' in the UK Government.

Calls for probe into Covid ‘cronyism and contracts’ Getty Images

The UK Government still has “huge questions” to answer over its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic following Matt Hancock’s resignation as health secretary, Labour has warned.

Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said there remains unresolved issues over “cronyism and contracts”.

Hancock resigned on Saturday after the Sun newspaper published images and video of him in an embrace with aide Gina Coladangelo.

Labour has called for a full investigation over claims that Hancock also used a private Gmail account to conduct government business.

“The affair is just the tip of the iceberg and in terms of breaking the Covid rules with social distancing, it is only a part of the story here,” Murray told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme.

“The huge part of the story is all the issues that remain unresolved with regards to cronyism and contracts, that for many hundreds of millions of pounds going to companies associated with Matthew Hancock, whether it was an ex-neighbour or a friend.

“Those have to be resolved because PPE wasn’t delivered when the contracts stated that it should be so all that needs to be investigated.

“The impact that government decisions had on care homes and the epicentre of Covid ending up in care homes has to be investigated.

“The £37bn wasted on a test and trace system that clearly didn’t work, hasn’t worked and still doesn’t work.”

He continued: “The vaccine programme has been a success, but it’s papered over the cracks of what has been a disastrous strategy from this government.

“The Prime Minister has been too slow, he’s dithered, he’s delayed, and now it looks as if we’re in the midst of the start of a third wave because of that dither and delay.

“So, there’s huge, huge questions to answer.”

Murray said that the resignation of Hancock had given the opportunity to reflect on “huge problems” in the UK Government.

He said: “In terms of Covid, I’d like it to be an independent public inquiry where it can be completely in the open, and where a judge-led inquiry can take it out of the hands of government because it’s quite clear they can’t be trusted.

“But, there also has to be maybe the permanent secretary doing a full inquiry into whether or not there’s been breaches of any of the Freedom of Information Act, Official Secrets Act, the ministerial code.

“All of those huge issues have to be answered and what Matthew Hancock’s resignation has given us is the opportunity to reflect on the fact that there is huge problems in this government in terms of its secrecy and in terms of the way it operates.

“It doesn’t abide by any of the rules that normal governments would abide by and that has to be investigated at the very highest levels.”

The SNP has also called for an investigation into whether Hancock broke the ministerial code.

The party’s Westminster depute leader Kirsten Oswald MP said: “There are growing concerns that Matt Hancock routinely abused his position as Tory Health Secretary – and may have broken the ministerial code and the law on multiple occasions.

“It’s essential that Boris Johnson orders an independent investigation to shine a light on Tory cronyism – or trust in the UK government will be eroded even further.”

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