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Phillip Schofield asks if Hancock social distancing breach caused by dyslexia

·2 min read

TV presenter Phillip Schofield has questioned whether former health secretary Matt Hancock broke social distancing rules because of his dyslexia.

Mr Hancock, who resigned in June after admitting to breaching Covid-19 restrictions, is calling for all children to be screened for dyslexia before they leave primary school.

He will introduce a Dyslexia Screening Bill on Tuesday in the House of Commons.

Appearing on This Morning, Mr Hancock was asked by host Schofield: “Was it your dyslexia that meant you misread the social distancing rules?”

Mr Hancock resigned as health secretary five months ago after leaked CCTV footage showed him kissing an aide, in breach of social distancing rules he had helped establish.

He replied: “No, I can’t blame that on dyslexia or anything else. In fact, I am not asking for any special favours because I am dyslexic.

“In politics I have got some things to offer. In that case, that was a mistake and I have apologised for it.

Matt Hancock affair accusations
Former health secretary Matt Hancock (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

“It was a failure of leadership because I came on shows like this and asked people to do things and I didn’t follow the those rules myself.”

On his successor in the role, Mr Hancock said: “I think that Sajid Javid, who’s doing the job, is doing an excellent job.”

Asked by Schofield whether Mr Javid was doing a better job, he replied: “Who knows? Because there’s so many uncertainties and new things hitting us like the new Omicron variant, but I think he’s doing a great job.

“But, you know, in those jobs, the pressures are big but that’s no excuse. It was a failure of leadership on my part and I’ve apologised for that.”

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling, but unlike a learning disability, intelligence is not affected.

Mr Hancock was not diagnosed with dyslexia until he went to Oxford University.

A statement on behalf of Kate Griggs, founder of charity Made By Dyslexia, said: “Philip’s question highlights why we need to redefine dyslexia.

“Dyslexics process information differently, creatively. While dyslexia can result in challenges with reading and spelling – that are very real to millions of children and are not to be made light of – it also results in amazing strengths that are vital for the workplace.

“That’s why Made By Dyslexia’s mission is to train every teacher to spot, support and empower dyslexic children.”

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