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'Hancock in the jungle will bring back heartache'

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A mother who could not see her dying son while Matt Hancock broke social distancing rules said she was angry he was joining a reality show.

Penny Bibby of South Benfleet was not allowed to be with her son in hospital due to Covid restrictions.

Ollie Bibby, 27, died on 5 May last year - the day before the then health secretary was caught breaking rules.

Mr Hancock has defended his decision to appear in I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

He resigned from his government position after he was filmed kissing a colleague in breach of Covid rules.

Despite widespread criticism about appearing in the ITV show, the West Suffolk MP said it was the job of politicians to engage with people.

Mrs Bibby said her son felt like he was "in prison" while in hospital with leukaemia and begged to see his family, but they were "barely allowed in".

She said she was "disgusted" that the man who set the rules had broken them, while her son lay dying.

"I love this show normally and was looking forward to it but I won't be watching it this year.

"I have spoken to many bereaved families and we all feel so angry that Matt Hancock is going into the jungle," she said. "It is disrespectful to the many people who sacrificed everything during the pandemic when he broke all the rules.

"Seeing him on the TV will unearth all the heartache we already feel.

"I can't believe that ITV have even thought it OK for him to go on.

"Many including me will be boycotting the show this year. He really doesn't get the heartache and pain he has caused."

The campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice called Mr Hancock's decision "sickening", and urged ITV to remove him from the programme.

The group tweeted: "Matt Hancock isn't a 'celebrity', he's the former health secretary who oversaw the UK having one of the highest death tolls in the world from Covid-19 whilst breaking his own lockdown rules."

A petition calling on ITV to remove Mr Hancock from the line-up has had over 30, 000 signatures.

Mr Hancock had the whip suspended when the news emerged, meaning he has been kicked out of the Conservative Party but remains an MP.

He said he would donate some of his fee for the programme to charity.

The BBC has contacted an ITV spokesperson for comment.

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