Mother whose son died from leukaemia hits out at PM for dismissing anger over Hancock affair

·4 min read
A picture of Ollie Bibby on his family's JustGiving Page, on which they are fundraising for the Willow Foundation.
A picture of Ollie Bibby on his family's JustGiving Page, on which they are fundraising for the Willow Foundation.

A mother prevented from seeing her dying son in his final weeks in hospital has said she feels "dismissed" after Boris Johnson brushed aside questions about Matt Hancock's resignation.

Ollie Bibby, 27, died from leukaemia last month the day before the former health secretary was recorded on CCTV breaking COVID restrictions by kissing his aide.

During Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked Johnson why he let Hancock remain in office on Friday after the CCTV revelations were made. Hancock ultimately resigned a day later, on Saturday.

Starmer raised the example of Mr Bibby, whose family were prevented from seeing him during his final weeks alive, as one of millions of people who had made sacrifices during the pandemic by following COVID restrictions.

Johnson told Starmer: "Instead of focusing on stuff going on within the Westminster bubble we are focusing on rolling out that vaccine."

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 30, 2021: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for PMQs at the House of Commons on June 30, 2021 in London, England. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Downing Street has rejected claims that Boris Johnson shrugged off a man's death during PMQs. (Getty)

Mr Bibby’s mother Penny, of South Benfleet in Essex, told the BBC that Johnson’s response made her feel “not important”.

“Boris Johnson just dismissed the question, he avoided answering it entirely, which made us feel like we’re not important,” she said. 

“He keeps going on about vaccinations, but there are no guarantees that families can be together on their death bed, even if everyone is vaccinated.

“There are no signs that anything is going to change.”

She added: “I have lost confidence in this government now.

“There needs to be a plan, this can’t go on.

“How many more families need to be kept apart while loved ones are dying?”

Watch: Boris Johnson dismisses Hancock scandal as ‘Westminster bubble stuff’

Number 10 has denied the PM was referring to Mr Bibby’s case.

The Downing Street press secretary said: "He absolutely was not referring to this issue [Ollie Bibby].

“The point he was making was that Keir Starmer was focusing on the former health secretary, when he left government five days ago."

Starmer told Johnson at PMQs: "I can hardly think that the prime minister thinks that it’s appropriate in response to a question about Ollie, to suggest that this is, in his words, the ‘Westminster bubble’.

“The ‘Westminster bubble’ in answer to that question, prime minister?

“Before Prime Minister’s Questions this morning I spoke to Ollie’s mum about the awful circumstances she and her family have been through.

"She told me, prime minister, that every day she watched the press conferences and she hung on to every word that government ministers said so she would know what her family could and couldn’t do, and then they followed the rules. 

"This is not the Westminster bubble.

"She told me that for her and her family this case isn’t closed, and she speaks for millions of people. I ask the prime minister to withdraw that when he gets up, it’s the wrong response to Ollie’s case.

"I can’t help concluding that the prime minister didn’t ask relevant questions on Friday morning either because he didn’t want to know the answers or he knows full well there’s more to come out."

The Labour leader said Johnson "muttered nonsense" in response to this.

File photo dated 10/12/2020 of Matt Hancock who has resigned as Health Secretary in a letter to Boris Johnson where he says the Government
Matt Hancock resigned on Saturday after he was caught kissing an aide. (PA)

The PM later added: "We have a new health secretary in place and have had one since the day after the stories appeared and that was entirely right and the right response to the situation."

Johnson refused to fire Hancock on Friday, with his spokesman saying the PM considered the matter closed after receiving the West Suffolk MP’s apology.

But the health secretary wrote a resignation letter to Johnson on Saturday, and released a video saying: “The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading up out of this crisis.”

Watch: PM insists government moved at 'right pace' in response to Hancock scandal

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