Patrick Vallance: Hancock had behavior of claiming issues that weren’t true

  • Sir Patrick Vallance, No10’s former high scientist, saved a diary throughout pandemic
  • He stated he had ‘no intention’ of his notes ‘ever seeing the sunshine of day’

Matt Hancock had a ‘behavior’ of claiming issues which weren’t true throughout Covid, Sir Patrick Vallance claimed immediately.

No10’s ex-chief scientist, tasked with advising ministers all through the pandemic, blamed the previous Health Secretary’s ‘over-enthusiasm’ for making daring claims he ‘did not have a foundation for’.

However, Sir Patrick additionally acknowledged that a few of Mr Hancock’s feedback might have been ‘deliberate’, in an eye-opening trade on the Covid Inquiry. 

Asked to summarise his time working with Mr Hancock, Sir Patrick stated: ‘I believe he had a behavior of claiming issues which he didn’t have a foundation for and he would say them too enthusiastically too early, with out the proof to again them up, after which should backtrack from them days later.

‘I don’t know to what extent that was form of over-enthusiasm versus deliberate – I believe quite a lot of it was over-enthusiasm.

No10's ex-chief scientist, tasked with advising ministers throughout the pandemic, blamed the former Health Secretary's 'over-enthusiasm' for making bold claims he 'didn't have a basis for'

No10’s ex-chief scientist, tasked with advising ministers all through the pandemic, blamed the previous Health Secretary’s ‘over-enthusiasm’ for making daring claims he ‘did not have a foundation for’ 

‘He undoubtedly stated issues which stunned me as a result of I knew that the proof base wasn’t there.’

When requested by inquiry counsel Andrew O’Connor if this meant he ‘stated issues that weren’t true’, Sir Patrick answered ‘sure’.

Mr Hancock was additionally earlier this yr described as a ‘confirmed liar’ by Boris Johnson’s maverick former aide Dominic Cummings, who pushed for him to be sacked. 

Concerns over Mr Hancock’s candour had been additionally echoed by Lord Mark Sedwill, who was Cabinet Secretary in 2020. He instructed the Inquiry he must double-check issues with others ‘to ensure he wasn’t over-promising’.

And Helen MacNamara, who served as deputy cupboard secretary, additionally claimed in her proof that Mr Hancock displayed ‘nuclear ranges’ of overconfidence and a sample of reassuring colleagues the pandemic was being handled in ways in which weren’t true.

It is claimed Mr Hancock was too optimistic along with his mass testing purpose, and made public guarantees that ‘went towards the recommendation of his personal consultants’.

Families of people that died in care properties additionally accused him of mendacity about throwing a ‘protecting ring’ round residents.

Mr Hancock resigned in June 2021 after leaked CCTV photographs confirmed him kissing an adviser in his workplace in breach of his personal social-distancing steerage.

However, Sir Patrick also acknowledged that some of Mr Hancock's spiel may have been 'deliberate' in an eye-opening exchange at the Covid Inquiry (pictured attending the opening of Parliament earlier this month)

However, Sir Patrick additionally acknowledged that a few of Mr Hancock’s spiel might have been ‘deliberate’ in an eye-opening trade on the Covid Inquiry (pictured attending the opening of Parliament earlier this month) 

Sir Patrick kept a diary during the pandemic, which has been described as 'a brain dump' written 'at the end of immensely stressful days to protect his mental health'

Sir Patrick saved a diary throughout the pandemic, which has been described as ‘a mind dump’ written ‘on the finish of immensely hectic days to guard his psychological well being’

He later angered colleagues and constituents by showing on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! in November 2022.

Having been stripped of the Conservative whip over his TV gig, he stated he wouldn’t contest his West Suffolk seat on the subsequent election when he would step down.

Mr Hancock, who penned his personal explosive diaries lifting the lid on the within story of the pandemic, took cost of the Department of Health in July 2018 — 18 months earlier than Covid hit the UK.

Earlier within the day, Sir Patrick claimed he had ‘no intention’ for his notes taken on the time of the pandemic ‘ever seeing the sunshine of day’.

He stated the diary he saved — described as ‘a mind dump’ — was written ‘on the finish of immensely hectic days’ to guard his psychological well being.

Explosive extracts have been shared as a part of the inquiry, together with revelations that Mr Johnson as soon as described coronavirus as ‘nature’s method of coping with outdated folks’ and that the ex-PM was ‘bamboozled’ by graphs and knowledge offered to him.

Asked about his memoirs, which have solely been shared with the Inquiry, Sir Patrick stated he had ‘no intention in any respect of those ever seeing the sunshine of day’.

‘I form of felt the world had most likely had sufficient of books of reflections of individuals’s ideas throughout Covid,’ he added.

Mr Hancock’s explosive e-book, Pandemic Diaries: The inside story of Britain’s battle towards Covid, was printed final December.

Other memoirs printed within the wake of the pandemic embody Spike: The Virus v the People, written by Sir Jeremy Farrar, an influential member of SAGE.

A spokesperson for Matt Hancock stated: ‘Mr Hancock has supported the inquiry all through and can reply to all questions when he provides his proof.’

Sir Patrick additionally stated it was ‘utterly mistaken’ that ministers hid behind a ‘following the science’ mantra throughout Covid.

He argued that there’s ‘no such factor because the science’ as a result of it’s ‘a transferring physique of data’.

The time period was repeatedly wheeled out at Downing St press briefings on the peak of the pandemic and used to justify lockdown restrictions.

It was taken to imply that the Government was ‘slavishly’ following recommendation, Sir Patrick stated. 

Sir Patrick, who headed up SAGE earlier than standing down from the £185,000/yr function, stated: ‘The repeated assertion undermined the significance of ministerial judgement, and the accountability of ministers for selections.’

He stated he welcomed the mantra initially as a result of it confirmed that ministers had been ‘listening to us’ and ‘that is not all the time the case in Government’, including: ‘But I believe the way in which through which this was heard and presumably meant, by way of slavishly following the science, obeying it always, it is utterly mistaken.’

‘And I also can completely agree that there isn’t a such factor as “the science”. 

‘Science by its definition is a transferring physique of data that tries to overturn issues by testing the entire time.’

Sir Patrick stated ministers knew the phrase ‘was damaging’ and that it was softened at some factors to ‘we’re being knowledgeable by’.

Giving proof at Dorland House in London on Monday, additionally revealed he clashed with England’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Sir Chris Whitty, who he described as a ‘delayer’.

He was requested about Sir Jeremy’s e-book, which described a ‘friction’ between over when to impose restrictions in 2020.

Sir Patrick stated Sir Chris’ function as a public well being specialist meant he was ‘rightly involved’ in regards to the adversarial results of Covid restrictions, corresponding to harming psychological well being. 

The CMO argued that these components ought to be thought-about and ‘pulling the set off to do issues too early might result in adversarial penalties’, Sir Patrick stated.

While Sir Patrick stated this was a ‘completely acceptable fear’, he disagreed.

He stated: ‘I did not have precisely the identical fear. I used to be extra on the facet of we have to transfer on this, however I believe that is partly why the 2 of us discovered it helpful to work collectively.

‘I imply, he would herald views that had been broad public well being views wanting on the penalties of interventions, in addition to the direct consequence of the virus.

‘And I believe typically I’d need to push and he won’t, and typically he was proper and typically I believe we should always have gone earlier. This was an event once I suppose it is clear that we should always have gone earlier.’

Extracts from Sir Patrick’s diary have been used throughout the inquiry to take a look at the work of key figures, together with Cabinet ministers and ex-Downing Street director of communications Lee Cain.

One entry recorded that the previous PM had referred to the Treasury because the ‘pro-death squad’ when he wished the division to again him in arguing for a path to eased restrictions.

Sir Patrick also revealed that he had clashes with England's Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Sir Chris Whitty (left), who he described as a 'delayer'

Sir Patrick additionally revealed that he had clashes with England’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Sir Chris Whitty (left), who he described as a ‘delayer’

Former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance arrives at Dorland House in London this morning to give a statement to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry

Former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance arrives at Dorland House in London this morning to provide an announcement to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry

Sir Patrick, who served because the Government’s chief scientific adviser from 2018 to 2023, additionally wrote about his frustrations in coping with the then-prime minister.

‘(Mr Johnson is) obsessive about older folks accepting their destiny and letting the younger get on with life and the economic system going,’ he stated.

‘Quite bonkers set of exchanges,’ he wrote, referring to a WhatsApp group together with Mr Johnson.

Sir Patrick additionally stated that he and Sir Chris felt Number 10 officers had been making an attempt to ‘strong-arm’ them into showing by Mr Johnson’s facet at a Downing Street press convention following the then-prime minister’s ex-chief adviser Dominic Cummings’ press convention on his lockdown journey to Barnard Castle.

The journey was clearly towards the principles and Mr Cummings’ televised look earlier than the media was a ‘automotive crash’, the previous chief scientist stated in an entry in May 2020.

Sir Patrick has objected to the publication of his pandemic-era diary in full.

Inquiry chairwoman Baroness Heather Hallett has but to decide on whether or not the entries ought to be disclosed of their entirety.

England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris will give proof to the inquiry on Tuesday and his former deputy, Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, on Wednesday. 

They shall be adopted by the Government’s present chief scientific adviser, Dame Angela McLean on Wednesday, whereas Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Dame Jenny Harries, who’s head of the UK Health Security Agency, will give proof on Thursday.

Sir Patrick Vallance diary extracts

JUNE 10, 2020

‘I’m apprehensive {that a} ‘Sage is hassle’ vibe is showing in Number 10. It might even be the Government chosen now and again from Sage what it wished.

‘There is a paper from Number 10 cupboard workplace for the one metre two/metre evaluation. Some individual has utterly rewritten the science recommendation as if it is the definitive model.

‘They’ve simply cherry picked. Quite extraordinary.’

JUNE 2020

‘No 10. Chaos as normal. On Friday the two-metre rule assembly made it abundantly clear that nobody in No 10 or the Cabinet Office actually learn or is taking time to know the science recommendation on two metres. Quite extraordinary.’ 

NOVEMBER 11, 2020

‘He [Simon Case] says Number 10 is at battle with itself. Carrie faction with Gove and one other with spads downstairs. The PM is caught within the center. He, the cupboard secretary, has spoken to all his predecessors … and nobody has seen something prefer it.’ 


‘This flip-flopping is not possible. One minute do extra, subsequent do nothing.

‘He would not appear to push precise resolutions. Morning PM assembly, he needs the whole lot regular by September, and then you definitely take care of issues regionally and regionally.

‘He’s now utterly bullish on opening the whole lot. As one other individual stated, it is so inconsistent. It’s like bipolar decision-making.’ 

JULY 2020

‘The ridiculous flip-flopping is getting worse.’

‘The CMO (Sir Chris Whitty) and I are each apprehensive in regards to the excessive inconsistency from the Prime Minister, lurching from open the whole lot to panic.’

SEPTEMBER 19, 2020

‘He’s [Boris Johnson] in every single place [about circuit-breaker lockdown] and utterly inconsistent. 

‘You can see why it was so troublesome to comply with lockdown the primary time.’