Jacob Rees-Mogg had a Covid test for his son couriered to his home while there was severe national backlog, leaked WhatsApp messages suggest.
An adviser to Matt Hancock helped get a test sent out to the senior Tory – then Commons leader – in September 2020, according to The Telegraph.
The aide messaged Mr Hancock to say the lab had “lost” the original test for one of Mr Rees-Mogg’s children, “so we’ve got a courier going to their family home tonight”.
He added: “Jacob’s spad [special adviser] is aware and has helped line it all up, but you might want to text Jacob.”
There was a backlog of 185,000 Covid tests waiting to be processed across the UK in September 2020. Rules in place at the time meant people had to isolate until a negative test was recorded.
Sarah Marsh, director of testing at NHS Test and Trace, had issued her “heartfelt apologies to anyone who cannot get a Covid test at present” only a few days before the test was couriered to Mr Rees-Mogg.
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “This is yet more evidence that it’s one rule for Conservative ministers and another for everyone else.
“The Covid inquiry must look into reports Conservative ministers were able to get priority access to tests at a time of national shortage.”
It comes as Mr Hancock has denied claims he rejected official advice while health secretary to give Covid tests to all residents going into English care homes.
The allegations are based on a leaked trove of more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages obtained by the Daily Telegraph.
Mr Hancock’s spokesman said the report claiming he rejected clinical advice on care home testing was “flat wrong” because he was told it was “not currently possible” to carry out the tests.
A spokesman alleged the messages provided to the Telegraph by journalist Isabel Oakeshott – handed them by Mr Hancock while she worked on his Pandemic Diaries memoir – have been “doctored” and “spun to fit an anti-lockdown agenda”.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty is said to have told the then-health secretary in 14 April 2020 there should be testing for “all going into care homes”.
Mr Hancock described it as “obviously a good positive step”. But the exchanges, from April 14 suggest he ultimately rejected the guidance, telling an aide the move just “muddies the waters” and introduced mandatory testing only for those coming from hospitals rather than the community.
However, a spokesman for Mr Hancock said “the Telegraph story is wrong” because he held meetings with officials on the deliverability of care home testing and was told it “wasn’t deliverable”.
He said Mr Hancock had convened an operational meeting on delivering testing for care homes on 14 April “where he was advised it was not currently possible to test everyone entering care homes, which he also accepted”.
The spokesman added: “Matt concluded that the testing of people leaving hospital for care homes should be prioritised because of the higher risks of transmission, as it wasn’t possible to mandate everyone going into care homes got tested.”
Lord Bethell said journalist Isabel Oakeshott was “not a very good friend”, after she leaked the WhatsApp messages. The former health minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “I think Isabel is a terrific journalist. She’s not a very good friend.”