Throughout the course of the pandemic, officials and ministers wrestled with how to ensure the public complied with ever-changing lockdown restrictions. One weapon in their arsenal was fear.
“We frighten the pants off everyone,” Matt Hancock suggested during one WhatsApp message with his media adviser.
The then health secretary was not alone in his desire to scare the public into compliance. The WhatsApp messages seen by The Telegraph show how several members of Mr Hancock’s team engaged in a kind of “Project Fear”, in which they spoke of how to utilise “fear and guilt” to make people obey lockdown.