Tories accused of 'bare-faced lying' over claim adviser was punched
PUBLISHED: 08:40 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:40 10 December 2019
The Conservative Party has been accused of 'bare-faced lying' after members of the party leaked false claims to the media that an adviser to Matt Hancock was punched while on a visit to hospital.
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The health secretary was visiting Leeds hospital in an attempt to defuse the growing media firestorm surrounding a photo of a 4-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia who had to sleep on the hospital floor.
Hancock went to the hospital after Boris Johnson, when questioned by ITV News, initially refused to look at the photo on a reporter's phone before taking the phone and putting it in his pocket.
However Hancock's appearance prompted further recriminations following claims his aide had been punched by a Labour Party activist.
Labour has now accused the Tories of "bare-faced lying" after video footage of the incident posted online showed only the arm of a protester accidentally brushing against the aide's face.
West Yorkshire Police said it was "unaware" of any reports to the force in relation to the incident and the hospital declined to comment on any aspect of the visit.
"It is shocking that the Tories are so desperate to distract from a four-year-old boy sleeping on a hospital floor because of their cuts to our NHS that once again they have resorted to bare-faced lying," a Labour spokeswoman said.
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"This is a new low and the Conservative Party has serious questions to answer."
A video posted to social media showed Mr Hancock being heckled by protesters as he left the hospital.
The Cabinet minister could be seen appearing to speak on the phone and hastily entering a car, as demonstrators shouted "shame on you" and "you are not welcome in this hospital, you are not welcome in this country".
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Asked what he would say to Jack's family, Mr Hancock told a reporter at the hospital: "It's not good enough, and I've apologised. I think the trust have handled it very well. The staff here have been brilliant.
"And Jack's family have been at pains to point out that the staff have been absolutely superb."
He said he had made the unscheduled visit because he wanted to get "reassurance" from the trust that "they're doing everything they can".
Meanwhile The Daily Mirror, which published the original photograph, has carried a fresh picture of a nine-month-old baby girl who was forced to wait on a chair for six hours at the Countess of Chester Hospital near Ellesmere Port because there was no bed available.
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