Matt Hancock affair one of most-Googled news stories of 2021
Former health secretary Matt Hancock was the only politician to feature in search-engine Google’s trends lists for 2021, with his affair with adviser Gina Coladangelo ranking as the second most searched news story of the year.
The three most searched terms overall – ‘Euros’, ‘Premier League’ and ‘Christian Erikson’ - were all football related, but in the news category ‘Matt Hancock’ was the second most popular term searched in the UK after ‘Covid vaccine’.
Data from Google Trends shows there was practically no interest in the health secretary prior to 25 June, when The Sun newspaper revealed his affair with Coladangelo. Interest peaked on 26 June – when Hancock resigned from government - before going back to almost zero at the beginning of July.
Welsh Google users were the most interested in the then health secretary’s affair, followed by users in England then Scotland then Northern Ireland.
Related topics that were also searched included ‘Gina Coladangelo’, ‘kiss’, ‘closed-circuit television’, ‘Oliver Bonas’, and ‘Matt Hancock resigns’.
The newspaper revealed the affair by publishing a still from CCTV that showed Hancock in an embrace with Coladangelo, who in addition to being an adviser to Hancock was marketing and communications director at Oliver Bonas, a retail chain founded by her husband.
The footage was taken at a time when social distancing rules meant people from different households were not allowed to mix. Hancock initially apologised and was supported by Prime Minister Boris Johnson before resigning a day later.
Other popular news searches this year were ‘Sarah Everard’, ‘Afghanistan’ and ‘GME’, while the most searched questions included ‘Is Facebook down?’, ‘Is WhatsApp down?’ and ‘When will lockdown end?’.
Google News Labs head Matt Cooke said the list reveals "insights into the zeitgeist of the nation".
"During a year of unpredictability, we have turned to sport, entertainment, gardening, recipes and UK-based travel to get us through some of the most frustrating and difficult times," he said.