Matt Hancock has asked for ‘forgiveness’ for breaking Covid rules during his fling with Gina Coladangelo – insisting he is ‘only human’.
In an amazingly candid interview with the Mail, the former health secretary talks candidly about falling “deeply in love” with his former aide and the pain it caused his family.
He also discusses the “horrific” vitriol they received after his decision to appear on I’m A Celebrity.
Mr Hancock says he takes responsibility for a ‘failure of leadership’ when the pair were caught breaching social distancing rules.
Matt Hancock has asked for ‘forgiveness’ for breaking Covid rules during his fling with Gina Coladangelo – he insisted he’s ‘only human’
But he says his “political judgment was wrong” as he was “deeply in love” with Miss Coladangelo and described their relationship as an “affaire de coeur.”
He talks openly for the first time about the beginning of their affair, revealing the moment he realized they had fallen for each other and the conflict with his conscience that followed.
However, Mr Hancock says he is not asking for forgiveness for the way he handled the pandemic, insisting that he “woke up every morning” determined to give his best in “impossible” circumstances.
The exclusive revelations coincide with the start of series production of Mr Hancock’s Pandemic Diaries in The Mail+ and the Daily Mail.
In the interview he reveals:
• The couple was surprised by their feelings – they only realized they were in love after Miss Coladangelo turned to the MP during a health crisis;
• They had six weeks to think about their emotions before deciding to ‘build a life together’;
• He remembers the night he had to tell his family about the affair after being confronted by a newspaper;
• admits he was ‘in tears’ in the car on the way to tell Boris Johnson he was going to resign;
• He resolutely stands by his pandemic record – claiming that there is ‘a good, honest explanation for every single decision’;
• Defends his decision to join I’m A Celebrity, insisting he was there as ‘part of his job’ and that he wanted the public to see him as a ‘human being’.
The 44-year-old was forced to resign as health secretary after he was caught breaking his own rules kissing Miss Coladangelo in his Whitehall office last year.
He tells the Mail: “I want forgiveness for the mistake I made, the failure of leadership at the end of the pandemic when I fell in love with Gina and I broke the guidance I signed. I want forgiveness for the human error I made… but I’m not asking for forgiveness for how I handled the pandemic.
“I woke up every morning determined to do my very best in the most impossible of circumstances, until I had to go to bed at night. I did that for 18 months.
“There’s a good, honest explanation for every decision I’ve made, whether it turned out right or not.”
He adds, “I’m not seeking forgiveness for falling in love with Gina, because I love her very much.”
Mr Hancock says he takes responsibility for a ‘failure of leadership’ when the pair were caught breaching social distancing rules
Mr Hancock insists he was a ‘zealous’ follower of the rules until he made a ‘mistake’.
“I’m not going to make excuses, I’m raising my hands and taking responsibility.”
He says he asked for forgiveness while on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity when faced with tough questions from his camp mates about his crime ‘because I’m only human’.
He gets emotional thinking about the joy of seeing Miss Coladangelo waiting for him when he left the show after finishing third.
In a breaking voice he says, “It was great to see Gina on the bridge, it wasn’t easy.
“It hasn’t been easy for me or those I love and I don’t seek sympathy for doing it to myself. But it was great to see her.’
While the demands of the pandemic meant they worked closely together, he said it wasn’t until April last year that they realized they had developed feelings.
The MP described his joy when he was greeted by girlfriend Gina Coladangelo as he left the camp
He also claims that they had no physical contact until May 2021 after spending weeks thinking about their situation.
“We both realized that we had feelings for each other that were as strong as they were. It came very suddenly and surprised both of us,” he says.
Thinking back to the exact moment the penny dropped, he says, “I can remember every moment of it. Gina had a medical appointment and then called me.
“I was the first she called. I’m like, ‘F***, she called me first.’ And she said, ‘Oh my God, the person I wanted to call was Matt.’
They were both married at the time and each had three children. Mr. Hancock admits: ‘I felt every conflicting emotion because I was in love, but at the same time I caused tremendous pain to the people I loved.
“We realized that what happened had enormous consequences that would last for the rest of our lives, but … this was an affaire de coeur and therefore my political judgment was wrong.”
For six weeks, he said they both “wrestled with their consciences,” but came to the decision that they “wanted to build a life together.” The couple has six children together.
But just as they were struggling with how best to handle their relationship and their loved ones, he said he received a call from The Sun to inform him that the newspaper was about to expose their affair.
Mr Hancock recalls informing the then Prime Minister, Mr Johnson, and going home to break the news to his family. The night that followed was a restless one and he waited until 2am for the CCTV images to be released for the world to see – a moment he described as ‘appalling’.
Mr Hancock says he and Miss Coladangelo endured a ‘shockingly horrendous’ 18 months, which was exacerbated by even more ‘vitriol’ when he decided to appear on I’m a Celebrity while a sitting MP.
He had suspended the Tory whip while Miss Coladangelo was asked to resign from her new role as a charity trustee.
“It has been absolutely horrible, especially for Gina. I got an absolute bucket of shit over my head,” he says.
The MP said his mission on the show was to help close the gap between the public and their politicians, adding: “I was there as part of my job, not instead of my job.”
He said he had also hoped to seek forgiveness and show the country that he was “only human.”
He added, “I don’t know if I’ve achieved that, but I’ve shown people who I really am — not just the Matt Hancock on stage.”
Mr Hancock plans to donate part of his fee – reportedly around £400,000 – to charity before returning to work in parliament.