HarperCollins denies talks with Matt Hancock over Covid-19 book

HarperCollins denies talks with Matt Hancock over Covid-19 book

HarperCollins has denied reports it is in talks with Matt Hancock about writing of his experience as health secretary during the coronavirus pandemic, saying it has no knowledge of the book.

Over the weekend the Daily Mail reported Hancock was set to write a "How I Won The Covid War" book on his "heroic" role in the UK vaccine campaign, and was in talks with HarperCollins over a "blow-by-blow account of 'heated' lockdown rows with ministers, aides, scientists and medics". The Mail said the book could earn him an advance of £100,000. 

However, HarperCollins strongly denied any involvement, and tweeted: "As we told the Mail before it ran its story about HarperCollins and Matt Hancock, we have no knowledge of such a book and are not in talks. The story is incorrect."

Hancock told the Mail: "I have been approached to write a book, but no decisions have been made."

His spokesperson added that while an approach had been made by a publisher, no deal had been signed: “Matt has been approached to write a book about his experiences in the pandemic, but no decisions have been made. There is no deal," they said. 

Since the Mail story, there have been a number of critics of any such book. Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, said the former health secretary was attempting to “put his spin on the government’s failures”. She tweeted: “This is disgusting and an insult to each and every bereaved family. Boris Johnson needs to step in and block Matt Hancock from getting a bumper payday to put his spin on the government’s failures before we get the truth in a public inquiry.”

In a separate statement, a Labour spokesperson said: “The Cabinet Office should block the publication of this tasteless cashing in on tragedy.”

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK group also criticised Hancock on Twitter, saying: “The fact that Matt Hancock thinks it’s appropriate for bereaved families to have to listen to his spin on their loved ones’ deaths, before the truth has come out via the inquiry, says it all about the attitude of the man who oversaw the worst UK public health failure ever."