Isabel Oakeshott, who ghost wrote Matt Hancock’s diaries, has handed over a cache of WhatsApp messages from Hancock’s phone to the Telegraph. Oakeshott was given the messages by Hancock as an aide-mémoire and she has now passed them on. They appear to be pretty sensational, revealing that the then Health Secretary ignored Sir Chris Whitty’s advice about testing people in the community before admitting them to care homes, among other things. The Telegraph has the most sensational revelations on its website. Best of them at the foot of this page.
Needless to say, the messages confirm the Daily Sceptic‘s general position at the time, namely, that the Government’s pandemic response was prompted by political calculation, not ‘the Science’. The files give the impression that nearly everything the Government did to try to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 – social distancing, tiers, lockdown, masking, closing schools, restricting access to care homes – was just nonsense it made up as it went along, desperate to be seen to be doing something. I think they also confirm my own analysis of the Government’s pandemic response, which is that it wasn’t part of some grand plot long planned in advance – the plandemic – but just a series of cock-ups made by people of limited intelligence desperate to shore up their own positions. A clown show, not a conspiracy.
It beggars belief that Hancock simply handed over these incriminating messages to Oakeshott without any guarantee she wouldn’t share them with anyone – but, then, he’s a bear of very little brain. She calls this a “sensational cache of private communications”, which seems about right.
Here is the Telegraph on what appears to be the most scandalous revelation in the files – Hancock’s decision to ignore Whitty’s advice about testing people in the community before admitting them into care homes.
Prof Sir Chris Whitty told the then Health Secretary early in April 2020, about a month into the pandemic, that there should be testing for “all going into care homes”. But Mr Hancock did not follow that guidance, telling his advisers that it “muddies the waters”.
Instead, he introduced guidance that made testing mandatory for those entering care homes from hospital, but not for those coming from the community. Prior to the guidance, care homes had been told that negative tests were not required even for hospital patients. The guidance stating that those coming in from the community should be tested was eventually introduced on August 14th.
Between April 17th and August 13th, 2020, a total of 17,678 people died of Covid in care homes in England.
In the first two years of the pandemic, there were more than 40,000 Covid deaths in care homes in England, as the most vulnerable in society bore the brunt of the fatalities.
Mr. Hancock himself later told MPs that transmission from the community – particularly from staff – was the “strongest route” for Covid into care homes.
The Telegraph has obtained more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages sent between the then Health Secretary and other ministers and officials at the height of the pandemic.
The messages comprise 2.3 million words – three times as many words as the King James Bible contains.
The communications span the years of the pandemic and reveal discussions between the then Health Secretary and those at the heart of the decision-making process, including the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
Other conversations involve Sir Chris, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, and Sir Patrick Vallance, its Chief Scientific Adviser.
The messaging groups have names such as “Top Teams”, “COVID-19 senior group” and “crisis management” – the name of a group created to deal with the fallout from Mr. Hancock’s relationship with his aide, Gina Coladangelo.
Over the coming days, the Telegraph will reveal the messages, which lay bare the extent to which groupthink among aides and ministers affected pandemic decisions.
The messages also reveal the often casual approach that ministers took to making major decisions, including the call to close classrooms, introduce face masks in schools and provide testing in care homes.
They show how Mr. Hancock expressed concerns that expanding testing in care homes could “get in the way” of his self-imposed target of 100,000 Covid tests per day.
Very much worth reading in full.
Other stories from the files include: ‘How Matt Hancock hit his audacious 100,000 daily Covid testing target‘; ‘Matt Hancock was told care home Covid rules were “inhumane” – but kept them’; ‘Hancock adviser arranged personal test for Jacob Rees-Mogg’s child at time of massive shortage’; ‘“No one thinks testing is going well, Matt,” George Osborne told Hancock’.
We‘ll be bringing you more in the coming days.
Stop Press: Fraser Nelson makes a decent fist of trying to sum up the main take-away in his Telegraph column:
Over the next few days, the Lockdown Files will show how much political concerns shaped policy – with ‘the science’ used, all too often, as verbal dressing. If you suddenly find out that people don’t need to self-isolate for as long as you once thought, what do you do? Apologise, and let them away earlier? Or delay sharing the advice to avoid embarrassment? The closed-loop decision-making process, the confidence that no one might ever know, encouraged all kinds of political misbehaviour.
Worth reading in full.