Disgraced Matt Hancock dropped from major travel conference

By Linsey McNeill
Home » Disgraced Matt Hancock dropped from major travel conference

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been cancelled as a guest speaker at the Institute of Travel and Tourism Conference in Qatar.

ITT Chair Steven Freudmann withdrew the West Suffolk MP’s invitation today following revelations about his behaviour in a series of WhatsApp messages leaked to the press over the past few days.

News that Mr Hancock was to be paid to attend the conference had also caused outrage with the travel industry

Steven had originally defended the decision to invite Mr Hancock, who was responsible for imposing a travel ban during the pandemic, saying: “It would be a sad day if we only invited speakers with whom we agree.”

However, he told Travel Gossip this morning that Mr Hancock’s planned appearance at ITT was ‘becoming a major, major distraction from what promises to be the most exciting conference programme’.

He added: “We invited Mr Hancock prior to these revelations in the Telegraph because he was Health Secretary during the pandemic and we were hoping to question him about whether he recognised the damage he had caused to the travel industry.

“There is no love lost between the ITT and Mr Hancock but we wanted to ask him if he had any regrets and whether he would have done anything differently, if lessons had been learned really, but once these revelations about his behaviour came to light, including him saying that he wanted to ‘scare the living daylights out of people’, his appearance became too much of a distraction.”

Mr Hancock resigned his ministerial post during the pandemic after he was exposed for breaking lockdown rules by having an affair with his aide.

His former ministerial colleague, ex-Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, is also no longer attending the ITT conference in Doha in June, having been invited for a ‘grilling’ by the industry.

Steven announced last September that Mr Shapps had ‘agreed to put his head on the block’ and take questions from ITT members about the Government’s handling of the pandemic, in particular travel restrictions imposed at the height of the crisis.

However, Mr Shapps withdrew from the conference after he was appointed Energy Secretary last month.

There are 24 other speakers listed for the ITT conference, which will take place at the Waldorf Astoria Lusail in Doha from 5-7 June.

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