The journalist who leaked Matt Hancock’s lockdown WhatsApp messages has said the public are only interested in what happened – not in her or the former health secretary’s reputation.
Isabel Oakeshott released the messages to The Daily Telegraph this week after Mr Hancock shared them with her while working on his Pandemic Diaries book.
She passed on more than 2.3 million words from exchanges the former health secretary and his colleagues had about COVID policy at the height of the pandemic, leading to a tranche of stories.
Mr Hancock has said it is a “massive betrayal and breach of trust” but Ms Oakeshott claims she felt she had to release the messages “in the national interest”.
Speaking to Sky News on Friday morning, she said: “The millions of people who suffered during the pandemic are not interested in me, they’re not interested in Matt Hancock’s reputation.
“They’re interested in what really happened – what were the politicians saying and doing that they weren’t telling us.
“That’s my focus and I’m not worried about anything else.”
The first story from the thousands of messages alleges Mr Hancock rejected testing advice on care homes and expressed concern it could get in the way of meeting his targets – something he strongly denies.
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The “lockdown files” investigation also claims that officials couriered Jacob Rees-Mogg a COVID test for one of his children while there was a shortage in September 2020.
It also claims social care minister Helen Whately advised the health secretary not to stop “husbands seeing wives” in October 2020, saying restrictions on care home visits would be “inhumane”.
Ms Oakeshott has admitted to breaking a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Mr Hancock by leaking the messages – but she insisted it was “not a personal thing”.
Her reported breach of contract has led to criticism from Conservative MPs and journalists – particularly in light of other controversies she has been involved in.