Health secretary Matt Hancock walks to meet with NHS staff during a visit to Chelsea and Westminster hospital in London, Britain June 17, 2021. Steve Reigate/Pool via REUTERS

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said he is “very sorry” for breaking Covid rules after pictures of him kissing and embracing his top aide in his office last month were splashed on the front page of The Sun on Friday (June 25).

“I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances,” Hancock said.

“I have let people down and am very sorry. I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family on this personal matter.”

The publication of the photos, taken in Hancock’s office last month, raised more questions about his judgment over hiring his friend and former lobbyist, Gina Coladangelo, as an aide last year.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid did not say how it obtained the security camera images, but it cited a whistleblower as commenting on the relationship.

The Sun said Hancock met the aide at Oxford University in the early 2000s. She is listed on the health department’s website as a non-executive director.

Asked about the appropriateness of appointing friends to positions in government, transport secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News that “very strict rules were in place.

“In terms of the rules, anyone who has been appointed has to go through an incredibly vigorous process in government,” Shapps said.

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