New leaked messages between Matt Hancock and officials show the then health secretary scrambling to save his career after footage emerged of his embrace with aide Gina Coladangelo.
They are among the latest set of WhatsApp correspondence to emerge from the leak of more than 100,000 messages by journalist Isabel Oakeshott to the Daily Telegraph.
The latest tranche to be published centre on the hours after Hancock discovered that leaked footage, showing him breaching social distancing rules, would appear on the front page of the Sun in June 2021.
He resigned as health secretary shortly afterwards.
The messages, published by the Telegraph, show Hancock discussing the guidance in place at the time and deciding what his initial response to media questions should be.
As he awaits publication, Hancock asks a special adviser: “How bad are the pics?”
Told it’s a “snog and heavy petting”, he replies: “How the fuck did anyone photograph that?”
The messages also show the reaction of Hancock and Coladangelo to a video obtained by the Sun.
“OMFG,” Ms Coladangelo said.
Hancock said: “Crikey. Not sure there’s much news value in that and I can’t say it’s very enjoyable viewing.”
In his diaries, worked on with Oakeshott and published last year, Hancock said that he resigned as health secretary after colleagues failed to defend him publicly.
By his own account, he said that Boris Johnson had assured him he could carry on even though he and Coladangelo had been pictured kissing in his office in breach of his own social-distancing guidelines.
But after the story broke, Hancock said he found himself “increasingly isolated” politically and was left with no choice but to quit.
The messages show Hancock and his advisers discussing among themselves and liaising with No 10 about how to respond to the story, amid an unfolding political storm.
They also reveal that he asked his former mentor and ex-chancellor George Osborne for advice, as he prepared to resign.