Matt Hancock has insisted that he only broke Covid guidelines rather than law when he kissed his aide Gina Coladangelo during the pandemic.
The Tory MP was grilled about his time as health secretary and recent decision to give just 3 per cent of his £320,000 I’m a Celebrity Fee to charity on Good Morning Britain.
Mr Hancock quit in June 2021 after images taken on 6 May 2021 showing him in a passionate embrace with Ms Coladangelo appeared in the press.
Asked by host Susanna Reid about how he “got away” with breaching Covid rules by kissing his now-partner, Mr Hancock insisted that did not break the law.
“I doesn’t feel like I got away it, Susanna. Of course it wasn’t breaking the law because the legal rules weren’t in place,” the MP said. “But I did break the guidelines, and I resigned and took accountability for my error.”
But lawyer Adam Wagner, an expert on Covid rules, said step 2 rules in place for England at the time meant “any gathering of more than one person indoors for social purposes was prohibited by law”.
Mr Hancock also insisted his £10,000 donation to charity from his lucrative appearance in the Australian jungle was a “decent chuck” and was “more than my MPs salary”.
The former Tory health secretary said he did not “primarily” go on the ITV reality programme for the money – but conceded it was some of motivation.
“I did absolutely give some of the money to charity,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain. “I didn’t primarily do it for the money – I primarily did it to try to show who I am.”
But the Tory MP did concede that “of course there was a discussion and negotiation over the fee” before he agreed to appear on the show.
Mr Hancock revealed the sum he gave £10,000 to the St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk and the British Dyslexia Association after official records showed his fee amounted to £320,000.
After making it to the final three in I’m a Celebrity, he announced that he was giving up his seat at the next election, saying there were different ways to “reach people” other than being an MP.
Pressed by by GMB host Richard Madeley if he wanted a career in “showbiz”, Mr Hancock said: “I don’t think so,” saying he was love to make documentaries on “important matters”.
Asked “what are you now”, he said: “I have been a politician, and I’m clearly still in the public. I’m going to spend 2023 working out what to do next.”
Mr Hancock faces a grilling about his time in charge of the Department of Health and Social Care at the public inquiry about the government’s handling of the Covid crisis.
Asked by host Gate Garraway on why he wrote a book before the inquiry, he said: “I have to be completely open about what I did, why I took the decisions I did so we can learn as much as possible.”
Mr Hancock’s book shifted 3,304 copies in the first week – and just 600 in the second, plummeting so steeply that it was out of the top 1,000 within a week.
I’m a Celebrity was one of the most complained-about programme of last year, when viewers objected to the inclusion of Mr Hancock in the series.
His local Tory association chairman wrote to the party’s chief whip Simon Hart to say the group had decided he was “not fit to represent this constituency”.
This week a 61-year-old man has been charged with assaulting the former health secretary on the London Underground. His spokesman described it as an “unpleasant encounter”.