Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, has apologised for breaking pandemic regulations after pictures of him embracing a top staffer he promoted to his team emerged, while also stating that he is not going to resign from the ministry.

Last month, The Sun newspaper released two photographs of Hancock and Gina Coladangelo appearing to kiss in his Whitehall office, causing him to apologise for violating COVID protocols.

The photographs, which were taken at Hancock’s office last month, have prompted even more doubts about his judgement.

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Hancock, who has been lambasted for his management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the early months, was found to have behaved unlawfully in February by failing to divulge information of contracts negotiated during the health crisis.

“I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances,” Hancock, 42, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg. “I have let people down and I am very sorry. I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family on this personal matter,” he added.

According to Bloomberg, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his health secretary, Matt Hancock, despite calls from the opposition Labour Party for him to be dismissed for violating the government’s own coronavirus regulations.

Johnson’s spokesperson, Jamie Davies, told reporters on Friday that “the prime minister has accepted the health secretary’s apology and considers the matter closed.”  Johnson stated that he had complete faith in Hancock.

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Johnson was criticised by the Labour Party for being “spineless” for not firing the health secretary. Bloomberg quoted a Labour official who said, “This matter is definitely not closed, despite the government’s attempts to cover it up.”