Hancock arranged for Covid test to be delivered to Rees-Moggs home

Sky News read Matt Hancock’s response after leaks

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A Covid test was couriered to the home of Jacob Rees-Mogg for one of his children by health officials at a time when there was a testing shortage, a new investigation has suggested. After an initial test for the youngster was lost by the laboratory, a special adviser to then Health Secretary Matt Hancock organised the courier to deliver the new test that evening, wait for it to be completed, and return it to be analysed.

Just two days earlier, Dido Harding, director of testing at NHS Test and Trace had issued her “heartfelt apologies to anyone who cannot get a Covid test at present”.

At the time, reports suggested there was a backlog of 185,000 tests waiting to be processed on September 11 2020, one day after the test was sent to Mr Rees-Mogg, at the time was Leader of the Commons.

The backlog, which was apparently the result of a lack of capacity in laboratories, meant tens of thousands of people were required to stay at home while waiting for results.

Without having one, people with symptoms – and their close contacts – were forced to isolate until they had tested negative.

Mr Hancock had admitted that “operational challenges” in the testing system could take “weeks” to resolve.

The Lockdown Files – more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages shared between ministers, officials and scientists and obtained by The Telegraph – revealed how Mr Hancock’s political special adviser, Alan Nixon, was roped into sorting Mr Rees-Mogg’s problem.

One message, sent to Mr Hancock just before 7pm on September 10 2020, said: “The lab lost JRM’s [Jacob Rees-Mogg] [child’s] test, so we’ve got a courier going to their family home tonight, [child] will take the test, and courier will take it straight to the lab. Should have result tomorrow am.”

Mr Nixon added: “Jacob’s spad is aware and has helped line it all up, but you might want to text Jacob.”

It is unclear whether Mr Hancock did so, or whether a test was delivered nor where to.

Mr Rees-Mogg has homes in both London and Somerset, where he is Tory MP for The Wrekin.

On September 10 he had been due to make his weekly Thursday morning appearance in the Commons in order to brief MPs on the following week’s Commons agenda.

However, at the time he said he was waiting for his child’s test result and was therefore self-isolating.

Four days later, the BBC reported on September 14 Mr Rees-Mogg had returned to work after his child’s test proved to be negative.

Journalist Isabel Oakshott’s probe, published in the Daily Telegraph, also claims Mr Hancock ignored advice to provide coronavirus tests to people going into English care homes, a probe based on more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages has claimed.

The investigation suggests in April 2020, chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty told Mr Hancock – then Health Secretary – there needed to be testing for “all going into care homes”.

However, Mr Hancock – who was eventually forced to resign after details of a social distance-busting embrace with lover Gina Coladangelo emerged – allegedly rejected the guidance, telling an aide the move just “muddies the waters”, and introduced mandatory testing for those coming from hospitals.

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Mr Hancock – a contestant in last year’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here – voiced concerns that expanding care home testing could “get in the way” of the target of 100,000 daily coronavirus tests he was targeting, the investigation claimed.

A spokesman for Mr Hancock said the former health secretary was “considering all options” in response to the leak, with a source close to him telling the PA news agency: “She’s broken a legal NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Her behaviour is outrageous.”

The spokesman said: “Having not been approached in advance by the Telegraph, we have reviewed the messages overnight.

“The Telegraph intentionally excluded reference to a meeting with the testing team from WhatsApp.

“This is critical, because Matt was supportive of Chris Whitty’s advice, held a meeting on its deliverability, told it wasn’t deliverable, and insisted on testing all those who came from hospitals.

“The Telegraph has been informed that their headline is wrong, and Matt is considering all options available to him.”

Express.co.uk has approached Mr Rees-Mogg for comment.

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