Matt Hancock has been told by an I’m a Celebrity campmate that “sorry… doesn’t really cut it” over his rule-breaking during COVID.
The former health secretary resigned from his post in June 2021 after pictures were leaked of him having an affair with his former aide in his office, breaking guidance about mixing with other households.
He is now on the ITV reality show, losing the Conservative whip in the process, and has had to face questions from the celebrities he’s in the jungle with.
Asked if he had got a fine for what he did, Mr Hancock said: “No, of course I didn’t.
“I didn’t break any laws, guidance is different, but I don’t want to [get into that]. The problem was it was my guidance.”
But pushed on why he did it, the MP said: “Because it was a mistake, because I fell in love with somebody.”
The answer didn’t seem acceptable for some of the campmates, with ITV News presenter Charlene White telling him her story from lockdown.
“My aunt died from COVID in the first wave,” she said. “So we couldn’t go to the hospital to visit her, I had to sit by myself in the church at the funeral, we couldn’t hug each other because we were following guidance.
“And I get you fell in love, I understand all of those things, but sorry, for a lot of families like mine, doesn’t really cut it.”
Mr Hancock said stories like hers were “of the reasons that I regret it as much as I do.”
But he continued to defend the government’s broader handling of the pandemic – for example, saying there were “reasons” that decisions on care homes were taken, adding: “Ultimately those problems were caused by the virus, not the people trying to solve the problems.”
The conversation ended on an emotional note, when the MP said: “Do you know what it is actually, what I am really looking for is a bit of forgiveness, that’s what I am looking for” – leading to a number of hugs from fellow contestants.
But Radio DJ Chris Moyles was still doubtful of his motives, telling the cameras: “I feel like he has pulled the mask slightly off his chin a little bit, but I still think he is not telling us the full truth.”
Later, Moyles discussed what Mr Hancock had said with another campmate, saying: “Forgiveness? Forgiveness for what? What are you sorry for?
“Is it for being caught? Are you sorry for having an affair? Are you sorry for making bad decisions? What?
“If you are going to be real, be real.”
Mr Hancock told the cameras: “Lots of the campmates asked questions the public have got as well, and it is only respectful to just give completely straight and truthful answers.”