London, Oct 11 UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been accused of flouting the country's 10 p.m. curfew by joining MPs for drinks in a bar at the House of Commons, a media report said on Sunday.
According to the Daily Mail report, Hancock arrived at the bar just before a vote at 9.40 p.m. on October 5, ordered a glass of white wine and announced: "The drinks are on me but Public Health England are in charge of the payment methodology so I will not be paying anything."
A senior Conservative MP told The Mail on Sunday that Hancock remained in the Smoking Room bar until at least 10.25 p.m., despite Speaker Lindsay Hoyle insisting that Commons venues must abide by the same 10 p.m. 'drink-up-and-leave curfew' as all English pubs.
Another MP told the Daily Mail: "He (Hancock) wasn't the only one some people were still ordering bottles of wine right up to the deadline.
"However, it was extraordinary that at 10.25 p.m. our Health Secretary, the man who maybe more than Boris himself has lectured the nation about respecting the Covid-19 rules, was knocking back a glass of vino when out in the real world, drinkers and diners had been kicked out of pubs and restaurants across England.
"Everyone is panicking and trying to cover for Matt, but I know what I saw and I can tell the time."
Reacting to the development, a spokesman for Hancock said that "no rules were broken", adding that the Health Secretary left Smoking Room to vote which took place at 9.42 p.m.
The spokesman however did not say whether Hancock returned to the bar after the vote and before he went home.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick stated that reports of Hancock being in the bar past 10 p.m. were "completely untrue".
"I've seen corroboration from other people who were present to say that he didn't go back to the bar after 10 p.m. I obviously wasn't there, but I have seen a number of people, reliable people, who have said that is completely untrue," he added.
( With inputs from IANS )
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