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Trevor Phillips invokes daughter’s funeral to criticise Hancock breach

Trevor Phillips (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)
Trevor Phillips (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

Sky News presenter Trevor Phillips recalled his daughter’s recent funeral as he questioned a Tory minister over why he should follow rules set by the Government after Matt Hancock breached them.

Veteran broadcaster Phillips, who was hosting the channel’s Sunday politics show, told how hundreds of family and friends had been unable to attend in person due to the social distancing rules that the former health secretary had himself broken.

Mr Hancock resigned on Saturday following the leaking of video footage showing him kissing an aide in his ministerial office on May 6, days before Phillips’ daughter was buried in a ceremony limited to 30 in person guests.

Freelance journalist Sushila died in April following a two-decade battle with anorexia.

Speaking to Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, Phillips said he wanted to ask a “private, a personal question”.

The 67-year-old said: “Over the past two days every Cabinet minister, including you, has come out to essentially defend the Prime Minister and Matt Hancock.

“The pictures that we saw were of an encounter on May 6. On May 11 my family buried my daughter who had died not of Covid but during the lockdown.

“Three hundred of our family and friends turned up online but most of them were not allowed to be at the graveside, even though it was in the open air, because of the rule of 30 – because of the instruction by Mr Hancock.

Matt Hancock affair accusations
Matt Hancock resigned as Health Secretary (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Now the next time one of you tells me what to do in my private life, explain to me why I shouldn’t just tell you where to get off?”

Mr Lewis replied: “Well, I absolutely accept and understand the frustration and even the anger that people have, having been through the situations they’ve been through.

“As you say, Trevor, people across the country, I’ve lost friends whose funerals I’ve not been able to go to over the last period.

“That is such a tragic situation for any of us to be in.

“I have to say, that is why it is so important that all of us do what we can to keep ourselves, our families, our friends, our wider community safe.”

He defended the former health secretary, adding: “What Matt did was wrong, he acknowledged that, it’s why he apologised immediately for his behaviour and acknowledged what he did was wrong.”

Labour MPs Jo Stevens and Karl Turner were among those who criticised Mr Lewis for appearing not to acknowledge Phillips’ loss directly, while Piers Morgan praised Phillips for his “powerful” comments.

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