Conference in Qatar withdraws invitation of UK’s former health secretary
The UK’s former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has had his invitation to a travel industry conference in Qatar revoked after his WhatsApp messages about COVID-19 restrictions were leaked.
The Institute of Travel and Tourism announced on Wednesday that Hancock would be a guest speaker at its annual conference, which will be held in Doha in June.
A few days later, leaked WhatsApp messages revealed Hancock joking with Cabinet Secretary Simon Case about hotel quarantine, The Independent reported on Monday.
The UK government imposed hotel quarantines in February 2021, a month after introducing a 19-week ban on international leisure travel.
“We are giving big families all the suites and putting pop stars in the box rooms,” Hancock wrote.
Case replied: “I just want to see some of the faces of people coming out of first class and into a Premier Inn shoe box.”
The former health secretary also accused the aviation industry of being “totally offside” and “completely unhelpful,” The Independent reported.
Regarding the decision to revoke Hancock’s invitation, Steven Freudmann, ITT chair, said: “The decision was triggered by the publication of his WhatsApp messages.
“Some of his private messages are really shocking and clearly we now know that he is no friend of the travel industry, as evidenced by his messages and avalanche of criticism on social media.
“We had been hoping that we could concentrate on lessons learnt from the handling of the pandemic, but in the end we simply decided that it would be unfair on our other 25 distinguished speakers if the entire focus was on Hancock.”