Matt Hancock hits back at Isabel Oakeshott ‘menacing’ message claim

Sky News read Matt Hancock’s response after leaks

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Matt Hancock has denied sending a “menacing” message to the journalist who released his WhatsApp messages. Isabel Oakeshott claimed she was threatened by the former Health Secretary after a newspaper began publishing stories on the leak.

Mr Hancock shared his WhatsApps with Ms Oakeshott as they collaborated on his memoirs, but she subsequently handed them to the Daily Telegraph.

In a statement released this morning, Mr Hancock said he is the victim of a “massive betrayal and breach of trust”.

He said: “I am hugely disappointed and sad at the massive betrayal and breach of trust by Isabel Isabel Oakeshott.

“I am also sorry for the impact on the very many people – political colleagues, civil servants and friends – who worked hard with me to get through the pandemic and save lives.”

He said there was “absolutely no public interest case for this huge breach” because all the material used for his Pandemic Diaries book was given to the Covid-19 public inquiry.

Mr Hancock continued: “As we have seen, releasing them in this way gives a partial, biased account to suit an anti-lockdown agenda.

“Isabel and I had worked closely together for more than a year on my book, based on legal confidentiality and a process approved by the Cabinet Office.

“Isabel repeatedly reiterated the importance of trust throughout, and then broke that trust.

“Last night, I was accused of sending menacing messages to Isabel. This is also wrong.

“When I heard confused rumours of a publication late on Tuesday night, I called and messaged Isabel to ask her if she had ‘any clues’ about it, and got no response.

“When I then saw what she’d done, I messaged to say it was ‘a big mistake’. Nothing more.

“I will not be commenting further on any other stories or false allegations that Isabel will make.

“I will respond to the substance in the appropriate place, at the inquiry, so that we can properly learn all the lessons based on a full and objective understanding of what happened in the pandemic, and why.”

Ms Oakeshott last night claimed she received a “somewhat menacing message” from Mr Hancock in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

She told TalkTV’s Piers Morgan Uncensored: “I received a somewhat menacing message at 1.20 in the morning. I am not going to repeat what was in the message. I think you can easily surmise whether Matt Hancock is my friend at this point.”

And Ms Oakeshott today declined to withdraw her claim about the threatening message.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m saying that he sent me a message at 1.20am in the morning. It wasn’t a pleasant message.”

Ms Oakeshott also defended her decision to leak the WhatsApp messages.

She said: “I’m a working journalist. They did not pay me for the messages. I’ve been helping the Daily Telegraph with the investigation, you’ll see that I’ve been writing stories for The Daily Telegraph.

“Anyone who thinks I did this for money must be utterly insane. This is about the millions of people, every one of us in this country that were adversely affected by the catastrophic decisions to lock down this country repeatedly, often on the flimsiest of evidence for political reasons.”

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