Journalist who leaked Matt Hancock's messages sent 'menacing' message

Journalist who leaked more than 100,000 of Matt Hancock’s WhatsApp messages is sent ‘threatening’ and ‘menacing’ message by the former Health Secretary after giving him no advance warning of plans to publish them

  • Isabel Oakeshott described the message as ‘threatening’ in a Telegraph article
  • It comes after she gave her entire cache of his messages to the newspaper
  • Matt Hancock is said to be considering legal action to prevent further reporting 

The journalist who leaked more than 100,000 of Matt Hancock’s WhatsApp messages to the Telegraph has claimed the former Health Secretary sent her a ‘menacing message’ when he heard what she had done.

Isabel Oakeshott was given access to the messages while ghostwriting Mr Hancock’s book Pandemic Diaries – but said she felt compelled to share them with the paper due to information that is in the ‘public interest’ being left out of the memoir.

Ms Oakeshott last night revealed she did not give the ex-minister advance notice of the leak, saying he found out ‘late [Tuesday] night’. 

Writing in The Telegraph, she described the message as ‘threatening’ as she launched a fresh defence of her actions by focussing on the pandemic’s impact on children.

On Wednesday she told Piers Morgan Uncensored on TalkTV: ‘I received a somewhat menacing message at 1.20 in the morning.’

Isabel Oakeshott (right) received the messages from Matt Hancock (left) when she helped him write his memoir Pandemic Diaries

The journalist claims she received a ‘threatening’ and ‘menacing’ message from the former Health Secretary at 1.20am on Wednesday

But when pushed to reveal what the contents of that message was, Ms Oakeshott refused to do so, saying: ‘You can easily summise whether Matt Hancock is my friend at this point.’

She added: ‘I think he is extremely troubled about how to respond to this, but this is not about him.’ 

Mr Hancock is said to be ‘considering all options’ in response to the leak.

‘She’s broken a legal NDA. Her behaviour is outrageous,’ a source close to the former health secretary said.

Representatives for Mr Hancock have been contacted for comment. 

Yesterday Ms Oakeshott confirmed that she had broken an non-disclosure agreement with Mr Hancock – although she argued that her action was overwhelmingly in the ‘public interest’. 

She wrote: ‘One way or another, a great deal of material that is overwhelmingly in the public interest and pertinent to the public inquiry was suppressed [from Pandemic Diaries].’ 

The claim of the ‘menacing message’ came as the Telegraph published further revelations from the WhatsApps on Wednesday night.

They detailed comments made by the then-Health Secretary to former Education Secretary Sir Gavin Williamson, in which he branded teaching unions ‘absolute a**es’.

Sir Gavin is said to have replied: ‘They really really do just hate work’. 

Following the messages’ publication, the former education secretary tweeted that his comments had been ‘about some unions and not teachers’.

He added: ‘I have the utmost respect for teachers who work tirelessly to support students.

‘During the pandemic, teachers went above and beyond during very challenging times and very much continue to do so.’

A source close to Mr Hancock said yesterday Ms Oakeshott has broken a non-disclosure agreement by sharing the messages

Further details about the government’s decision-making over school closures were also released on Wednesday night.

A spokesman for Mr Hancock said: ‘Tonight’s [Wednesday’s] revelations are exactly like last night’s. These are partial accounts, obviously spun with an agenda.

‘They show Matt was focused throughout on saving lives. The right place for a full assessment is the (official Covid) inquiry.’

Leaked messages published on Tuesday night seemingly showed Mr Hancock rejected the Chief Medical Officer’s call to test all residents going into English care homes for Covid at the start of the pandemic.

Mr Hancock’s representatives have vehemently pushed back against this ‘distorted’ impression saying he was ‘supportive of’ Whitty’s advice but was told it was ‘undeliverable’ but insisted on testing those coming from hospitals.

Sir Chris Whitty told him there should be Covid testing for ‘all going into care homes’ – but Mr Hancock’s WhatsApp messages revealed he did not follow the guidance, instead telling advisers it ‘muddies the waters’.

The message show that Sir Chris demanded in April 2020 ‘testing of all going into care homes’.

After initially supporting the guidance, Mr Hancock then appeared to change his mind, telling aides: ‘I would rather leave it out and just commit to test & isolate ALL going into care from hospital.

‘I do not think the community commitment adds anything and it muddies the waters.’ 

Mr Hancock denied the ‘distorted account’ with a spokesman alleging the messages leaked by journalist Ms Oakeshott after she worked on his Pandemic Diaries memoir have been ‘spun to fit an anti-lockdown agenda’.

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 the 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 have been informed that their headline is wrong, and Matt is considering all options available to him.

‘This major error by Isabel Oakeshott and the Telegraph shows why the proper place for analysis like this is the Inquiry, not a partial, agenda-driven leak of confidential documents.’

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