EMBATTLED Matt Hancock squirmed tonight as he was grilled about Dominic Cummings’ explosive claim he let Covid into care homes.
The beleaguered Health Secretary admitted there were not enough tests to swab every vulnerable resident returning from hospital in the first wave.
But he wriggled over Mr Cummings’ crucial charge that he personally assured Boris Johnson every care home resident would be tested.
Mr Hancock said tonight: “My recollection of events is that I committed to delivering that testing for people going from hospital into care homes when we could do it. I then went away and built the testing capacity.”
Mr Hancock felt the heat at a combative Downing Street press conference where he was repeatedly put ex-No10 aide’s damning allegation.
Mr Cummings yesterday rubbished the Health Secretary’s claim to have “thrown a protective ring” around care homes as “complete nonsense”.
The Health Secretary said: “Now when it comes to the testing of people as they left hospital and went into care homes, we committed to building the testing capacity to allow that to happen.
“Of course it then takes time to build testing capacity. In fact, one of the critical things we did was set the 100,000 target back then to make sure we built that testing capacity and it was very effective in doing so.
“And then we were able to introduce the policy of testing everybody before going into care homes, but we could only do that once we had the testing capacity which I had to build, because we didn’t have it in this country from the start.”
At yesterday’s bombshell committee meeting Mr Cummings said: “Hancock told us in the cabinet room that people were going to be tested before they went back to care homes. What the hell happened?”
Earlier in the day Mr Hancock fought for his political life in the Commons and rejected Mr Cummings’ accusation he was a serial liar.
Mr Johnson also came out swinging this morning, claiming some of Mr Cummings’s bombshells “bear any relation to reality.”
He also rejected the devastating verdict of his once right-hand man that “thousands died needlessly”.
A bruised Mr Hancock, who appeared emotional in the Commons, told MPs: “These unsubstantiated allegations around honesty are not true.
“I’ve been straight with people in public and in private throughout. Everyday since I began working on the response to this pandemic last January … I’ve got up and asked what can I do to protect life?
“That is the job of the Health Secretary in a pandemic.”
Mr Hancock said he hasn’t seen the claims against him in full yet because he’s been too busy “dealing with getting the vaccination rollout going, especially to over-30s, and saving lives”.
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He said the Health Secretary should have been fired at least 15 times for lying and incompetence in an extraordinarily personal attack.
The ex No 10 chief adviser claimed he and other “senior people” in Government repeatedly urged the PM to give Mr Hancock the boot over “at least 15-20 things” he did wrong.
And he claimed that the PM almost kicked him out last April – but ultimately decided not to.