Pressure is mounting on Matt Hancock to resign after the Health Secretary was caught kissing a close aide in breach of coronavirus restrictions.
His breach of social distancing guidance when he kissed an aide could damage government messaging on fighting the virus according to campaigners.
A video of Mr Hancock in an embrace with Gina Coladangelo was published on Friday night, after stills from the CCTV clip earlier in the day prompted Labour to deem his position “hopelessly untenable”.
The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group has written to the Prime Minister urging him to sack Mr Hancock if he does not resign.
In a letter to Boris Johnson, the group said it had broken its “position of neutrality on ministerial conduct” to urge Mr Johnson to relieve Mr Hancock of his job.
Rivka Gottlieb, from the campaign group, told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight: “If he were to announce another lockdown or further regulations why would anybody listen to someone who doesn’t follow the rules themselves? It’s a bit like the Cummings effect.”
Ms Gottlieb said people had been “outraged” by Mr Cummings’ actions, and she feared people would be more likely to break the rules if Mr Hancock remained as Health Secretary.
A snap poll from Savanta ComRes, released hours after photographs of the pair kissing in Mr Hancock’s ministerial office surfaced, found 58% of UK adults thought that Mr Hancock should resign, compared to 25% who thought he should not.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Tory MPs were telling the Prime Minister to “pull the plug”, with public reaction over coming days key to his fate.
Yesterday, in a statement, Mr Hancock said: “I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances, I have let people down and am very sorry.
“I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family on this personal matter.”
A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Johnson had accepted Mr Hancock’s apology and “considers the matter closed”.
Mrs Coladangelo, who is married to the founder of the retailer Oliver Bonas, Oliver Tress, is a friend of Mr Hancock’s from their days together at Oxford University and was appointed to the DHSC last year.
She was initially taken on as an unpaid adviser on a six-month contract in March 2020, before being appointed as a non-executive director at the department.
The Metropolitan Police said it was not investigating any offences, which allegedly took place last month, because “as a matter of course the MPS is not investigating Covid related issues retrospectively”.
Today, former Conservative minister Edwina Currie said “I couldn’t care less and I don’t think the electorate could either” about reports of Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s affair, adding that the Prime Minister will not sack him partly due to his own “colourful history”.
Ms Currie told Times Radio: “It’s a very thin catalogue of fault – I can’t see Boris with his rather more colourful history giving someone the boot because of stuff like that.
“Of course he shouldn’t have done it, but as long as Matt Hancock is doing his job properly, I think that’s fine.”
“I couldn’t care less and I don’t think the electorate could either,” she added.
“My own feeling is that private lives are private – they’ve obviously got some explaining to do to their families, but other than that it’s none of our business.
“I think also we should be very wary of being terribly censorious and pious that we want perfect behaviour from ministers.