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UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock gags users of his mobile phone app amid storm over his role in Covid pandemic

matt hancock app
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock

An update to UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock's mobile phone app has removed direct access to its online 'Have Your Say' forum.
Hancock boasted upon launching the app that it would provide followers with "a chance for you to tell me what you think."
The forum had been targeted by trolls and pranksters.
The update emerged as Hancock became the centre of a media storm over his role in handling the Covid pandemic in the UK.
Boris Johnson's former advisor Dominic Cummings claimed Hancock was guilty of dishonesty and incompetence in office.
See more stories on Insider's business page.

A quiet update to the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock's mobile phone app has hidden access to its 'Have Your Say' online forum, amid a public storm over his role in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

When Hancock first launched the app, he boasted that it was "a chance for you to tell me what you think, and to engage with others on issues that matter to you."

However, Insider has seen a version of the app, before its most recent update, which contains a link to the Have Your Say section in its main menu. After the update was applied, the link was removed.

The update history on Apple's app story said that the update "includes bug fixes", while the page on Google's play store said it had bug fixes and "profile enhancements".

How the app looked before and after its update
matt hancock app update

Insider spotted the link had been removed following a public row over claims by Dominic Cummings that Hancock had been responsible for the failure to protect thousands of care home residents from the first wave of the pandemic.

Cummings told members of Parliament this week that the Health Secretary "should have been fired for at least 15 or 20 things, including lying to everybody on multiple occasions, in meeting after meeting in the Cabinet room, and publicly."

Despite removing the link to the forum, users can continue to comment under Hancock's posts on the app, and by going through their profile page, posts can still be shared and viewed on the otherwise hidden Have Your Say section, which has a May 2020 post from Hancock pinned to the top.

The update to Hancock's app comes after it became a target for online trolls.

Last year's initial lockdown saw the Have Your Say section become "a haven for lewd pranksters", the Telegraph reported. Several of the recent posts are in the same vein, with users mostly posting content unlikely to be relevant to the health secretary, including a TikTok edit of Hancock running from news cameras superimposed onto the Rainbow Road course from Mario Kart Wii.

One post asked: "Is there a portal on here where I can be awarded a government contact [sic] for an area I have little experience of at scale please?"

Hancock appeared to encounter a similar issue in allowing people to have their say at Thursday's Downing Street press conference, after technical issues saw two journalists, who call in remotely to the conference, able to ask follow-up questions.

Journalists at previous press conferences had been muted in an apparent attempt to prevent such follow-ups.

Hancock appeared irritated when Beth Rigby, political editor at Sky News, and Pippa Crerar, political editor at the Daily Mirror, were both left unmuted and able to pose questions pressuring Hancock for answers on the failure to test people for coronavirus before they were sent back into care homes after being discharged from hospital.

-James Shield (@jshield) May 27, 2021

Hancock is due to appear on 10 June before the inquiry into lessons to be learned from the response to the coronavirus, joint between the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee.

A spokesperson for Hancock was contacted for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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