An earlier lockdown would have gone against scientific advice, says Hancock

Politics

Matt Hancock has denied claims he lied to the prime minister over the COVID care homes crisis and said “you can’t respond to a pandemic by pointing fingers”.

The health secretary is being questioned by MPs two weeks after Dominic Cummings, the PM’s former chief aide, claimed he “should have been fired for at least 15 to 20 things including lying”.

Asked if he knowingly lied to the prime minister about anything during the pandemic, Mr Hancock said: “No.”

One of the most explosive claims Mr Cummings made when giving his committee evidence was that the health secretary told Mr Johnson in March that people in hospital would be tested before returning back to care homes.

Addressing this allegation, Mr Hancock told MPs: “We set out a policy that people would be tested when tests were available – and then I set about building the testing capacity.”

The health secretary added that the government followed the “clinical advice” at all times.

He added that “it was telling” that Mr Cummings had not yet submitted any evidence to the committee to back his claims.

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