The Lockdown Files

The Telegraph

It’s a striking photograph: former health minister Matt Hancock, in profile, mouth open, lit from the front, looking for all the world like a rabbit caught in the headlights of the damning words alongside the image: “Hancock rejected Whitty’s advice on care home tests.”

The powerful banner was followed by two blue WhatsApp-style ticks signposting the paper’s digital-first approach to the scoop – namely the 100,000 WhatsApp messages shared with journalist Isabel Oakeshott by Hancock himself while she was helping him write his book about the Covid crisis. The story set The Telegraph’s news agenda for 10 consecutive days in March 2023, shedding new light on issues including care home deaths, school closures, lockdowns and testing, by revealing the contents of messages between Hancock and other ministers and officials at the height of the pandemic.

Oakeshott released the “sensational cache of private communications” when the much-delayed Covid enquiry threatened to be “a colossal whitewash,” as she explained in an incisive commentary below the main story. They were a powerful reminder of the government’s failings – not least Hancock’s decision not to test people going into care homes from the community. The page was both “compelling” and “sobering,” concluded the judges.