Kabul: Leaked WhatsApp messages have revealed that former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested frightening the public with a new Covid variant to ensure compliance with lock down rules. The messages, part of the “Lock down Files” – over 100,000 WhatsApp messages exchanged between ministers and officials – show the use of scare tactics to force compliance and push through lock downs. In one message, UK Cabinet Secretary Simon Case said that the “fear/guilt factor” was “vital” in ramping up messaging during the third national lock down in January 2021.
The Telegraph news paper published the collection of more than 100,000 WhatsApp communications between UK health ministry officials.
Throughout the pandemic, the UK government has been accused of scaremongering, but it has denied such allegations. Hancock’s department stated that the accusations were “misleading”.
The WhatsApp conversation between Hancock and his media adviser, Damon Poole, took place on 13 December 2020, two days after the emergence of the new variant, known as alpha or the Kent variant. Poole suggested that the variant could be helpful in preparing the ground for a future lock down and tougher restrictions in the run-up to Christmas. Hancock responded: “We frighten the pants off everyone with the new strain.” Poole agreed that this would lead to proper behavior change.