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Grieving families confront West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock as he arrives at Covid inquiry





Former health secretary Matt Hancock has arrived to give evidence to the coronavirus inquiry on how well prepared the UK was for a pandemic.

As the West Suffolk MP climbed out of a black Jaguar 4×4 outside the inquiry building in central London, he was greeted by six members of the group Covid Families for Justice.

Widow Lorelei King, 69, held up pictures of her husband, Vincent Marzello, who died from coronavirus aged 72 in a care home in March 2020.

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock arrives at Covid-19 Inquiry
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock arrives at Covid-19 Inquiry

One poster featured an image of Mr Hancock with Ms King’s husband and was captioned: “You shook my husband’s hand for your photo op.”

The other poster featured an image of her husband’s coffin, with the caption: “This was my photo op after your ‘ring of protection’ around care homes.”

Six members of the group Covid Families for Justice waited outside for Mr Hancock’s arrival.

Members of bereaved families outside the Covid-19 inquiry (Cameron Henderson/PA)
Members of bereaved families outside the Covid-19 inquiry (Cameron Henderson/PA)

The MP, who became one of the best-known politicians in the country as he worked to steer the coronavirus response before being forced to quit in June 2021, will give evidence to Lady Hallett’s inquiry throughout Tuesday morning.

His attendance comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, another former health secretary, admitted that “groupthink” meant the UK was not prepared for a pandemic beyond planning for a flu outbreak.

On Monday, former deputy chief medical officer Dame Jenny Harries was quizzed on the capacity of the UK health system as well as the organisational reforms before coronavirus spread.

Mr Hancock, also known for his appearance last year on TV’s I’m A Celebrity, became health secretary in mid-2018, but his political career was torpedoed after footage emerged in 2021 of his embrace with aide Gina Coladangelo.

Dame Jenny Harries giving evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry (UK Covid-19 Inquiry)
Dame Jenny Harries giving evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry (UK Covid-19 Inquiry)

A leak of more than 100,000 of his WhatsApp messages by journalist Isabel Oakeshott to the Daily Telegraph, many of which were published earlier this year, provided a glimpse into the inner workings of Government during the pandemic.

Mr Hancock, who will stand down at the next general election, has faced questions in the past about Government policy on Covid testing and nursing homes.

Former prime minister David Cameron, former chancellor George Osborne and chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty are all among those who have appeared before the committee so far.