British Health Minister Matt Hancock rejected allegations Thursday he had repeatedly lied during his response to the COVID-19 pandemic made by Dominic Cummings, a former top aide of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
In testimony to lawmakers on Wednesday, Cummings accused Hancock of lying to the public and said he “should have been fired” for testing failures that saw patients with the coronavirus discharged from hospitals to nursing homes, and also for lying about the status of the pandemic to Parliament and the public.
Addressing Parliament’s House of Commons, Hancock called Cummings’ allegations “serious” but “unsubstantiated and not true.” He said the government has published the full details of how his office worked with nursing homes “as much as possible to keep people safe, and we followed the clinical advice on the appropriate way forward.”
The United Kingdom has recorded almost 128,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe, and experienced one of the world’s deepest recessions in 2020 as three successive lockdowns hobbled the economy.
A mass vaccination campaign that started in December has brought infections and fatalities down sharply, though the U.K. is now reckoning with a more transmissible new strain of the virus first identified in India.
The government said it will begin an independent public inquiry into its handling of the pandemic within the next year.