Trevor Phillips, the Sky News presenter, recalled his daughter’s recent death and funeral to question a government minister over the hypocrisy of now deposed health secretary Matt Hancock’s coronavirus rule breach.
After a few minutes of quizzing Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis live on air, Mr Phillips said he wanted “to do something I wouldn’t normally do and put a personal, private, question to you”.
He continued: “For the past two days, MPs have come out to essentially defend the prime minister and Matt Hancock.
“The pictures we saw were on 6 May. On 11 May, my family buried my daughter who had died not of Covid but during the lockdown. Three hundred of our family and friends turned up online but most of them were not allowed to be by the graveside, even though it was in the open air, because of the rule of 30.
“And because of the instruction by Mr Hancock.”
Before allowing Mr Lewis the chance to respond, Mr Phillips finished by saying: “Now the next time one of you tells me what to do in my private life, explain to me why I shouldn’t just tell you where to get off.”
Mr Lewis failed to acknowledge Mr Phillips’ loss, and said: “Look I absolutely accept the frustration, even the anger, from people and the situations they’ve been through.”
“I’ve lost friends whose funerals I’ve not been able to go to, that is such a tragic situation for any of us to be in, which is why it’s so important for all of us to do what we can to keep ourselves and family members safe.”
He again defended the former health secretary, and added: “What Matt did was wrong and that’s why he apologised and acknowledged that.”
Mr Phillips, who is covering for Sophy Ridge’s Sunday morning politics show on Sky News, was referring to the death of his daughter who died in April after living with the eating disorder anorexia for more than two decades.
Sushila Phillips, who worked as a freelance journalist, “died peacefully in her own bed” with her parents at her side, according to reports at the time. She was 36 when she died.
It comes after Mr Hancock resigned on Saturday evening, following leaked CCTV footage of him in a tryst with government aide Gina Coladangelo inside his Department of Health office.
He remains as an MP and will join the Tory backbenches, replaced as health secretary by former chancellor Sajid Javid.
For anyone struggling with the issues raised in this piece, eating disorder charity Beat’s helpline is available 365 days a year on 0808 801 0677.
NCFED offers information, resources and counselling for those suffering from eating disorders, as well as their support networks. Visit eating-disorders.org.uk or call 0845 838 2040.
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