Boris Johnson has refused to sack Matt Hancock despite Downing Street being unable to rule out the prospect that he broke the law.
The Prime Minister "accepted the Health Secretary's apology and considers the matter closed", No10 declared today, after he admitted pictures of him snogging aide Gina Coladangelo broke Covid guidance.
Yet Downing Street refused eight times to comment on questions about whether Mr Hancock's actions broke Covid laws.
On May 6, when the images are said to have been taken, guidance urged people to stay two metres apart and avoid "face to face contact". But England's law also banned indoor social gatherings of people from different households.
Before May 17, indoor gatherings between people from different households or bubbles were against the law - unless they fell under an exemption such as being “reasonably necessary” for work.
A person would “commit an offence” if they broke this restriction without an exemption, and could be fined £200 on the spot.
The Covid regulations were signed into law by Mr Hancock himself.
Mr Hancock apologised today and said he had broken the social distancing "guidelines" - but his team have not clarified whether they believe he broke the law.
Instead a No10 spokesman said: “You’ve seen the Health Secretary’s statement so I would point you to that. I don’t really have anything further to add.
“The Health Secretary has set out that he accepted he’d breached the social distancing guidances and he apologised for that
“The Prime Minister has accepted the Health Secretary’s apology and considers the matter closed.”
Asked if Mr Hancock broke the Covid laws he himself signed, No10 “pointed back” to Mr Hancock’s own statement accepting he broke social distancing “guidance”.
Asked if he was refusing to comment on whether the Health Secretary broke the law, the spokesman said: “I’m simply pointing to the Health Secretary's own statement where he says I broke the social distancing guidance in these circumstances.”
The No10 spokesman refused to say if Boris Johnson asked Mr Hancock to resign, or if he offered to resign. No10 also refused to say how the pair spoke.
Asked if Boris Johnson has a problem with disciplining his ministers, the spokesman said: ”I’ve got nothing further to add”.
Asked what sort of breach would lead to a sacking, he replied: “You’ve got what I said.”
Asked if there could be an impact on wider compliance with Covid rules, he said: “As I said the Health Secretary and Prime Minister’s focus remains on tackling the pandemic as we move towards step four in July, that work is ongoing and that will remain our priority."