Ex-police chief believes officers wont be surprised by Matt Hancock leaked message saying the police should get heavy over lock-down rules

Ex-police chief believes officers wont be surprised by Matt Hancock leaked message saying the police should get heavy over lock-down rules

According to a former chief constable, the police would not be surprised by the tone of the leaked messages from Matt Hancock, which discussed the need to enforce lockdown rules strictly. The former chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy, also said that the approach taken by Mr Hancock and other ministers caused significant resentment within the police ranks.

There was often confusion between legislation and guidance, and ministers did not seem to understand the impact of the legislation.

The leaked messages also revealed that senior officers were instructed to be stricter with the public despite ministers claiming at the time that the police were operationally independent of the government. On August 28, 2020, Simon Case, the then permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, asked Mr Hancock who was delivering enforcement. Mr Hancock replied that they were going to have to get heavy with the police.

On January 10, 2021, one week after England entered its third national lockdown, Mr Hancock texted about how ‘the plod got their marching orders’ after a meeting attended by Boris Johnson, then home secretary Priti Patel, and Mr Case, who is now the Cabinet Secretary. On January 14, a gathering was held in No 10 that breached the rules in place at the time.

It also emerged that Mr Johnson feared he had ‘blinked too soon’ by imposing a second lockdown during the pandemic. The messages, leaked by journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who was a ghost-writer on Mr Hancock’s Pandemic Diaries, show that he expressed the fear on November 1, 2020, a day after he announced a national lockdown would come into force a few days later. Despite his fears, the lockdown went ahead and lasted for a month.

The messages raise fresh questions about whether ministers were making decisions based on science, as they always insisted. They also raise the prospect that people were forced to abide by draconian restrictions for more time than was necessary.

In one message on November 1, Mr Johnson said he had held an online conference call with scientists Dr Raghib Ali and Dr Carl Heneghan. He told those in the messaging group that Dr Heneghan had said ‘the death modelling you have been shown is already very wrong’ because it was out of date due to having been drawn up three weeks previously.

Previous messages revealed how Mr Johnson was told that lifting restrictions earlier than planned was not in line with what the public wanted. A message Mr Johnson sent to Mr Hancock on June 6, 2020, said he was ‘thinking hard about the 15th June’.

On June 15, ministers were planning on opening non-essential retail premises. Still, Mr Johnson’s message suggested he wanted to remove more restrictions, which his senior media advisers Lee Cain and James Slack warned against, saying that they still thought the whole package would be too far ahead of public opinion.


Read More On The Topic On TDPel Media