Matt Hancock faces sleaze probe after row over shares in firm
Matt Hancock faces sleaze probe after failing to make full declarations over shares in firm that won NHS business
- Matt Hancock faces investigation into share registration by standards watchdog
- Mr Hancock declared interest in storage and shredding firm Topwood in March
- Was rebuked by adviser on ministerial interests last month but breach ‘minor’
Matt Hancock is facing a sleaze probe after failing fully to declare shares in a firm that has won contracts from the NHS.
The Health Secretary declared in March that he had acquired 15 per cent of the shares in Topwood Ltd, which specialises in the secure storage, shredding and scanning of documents.
However, the entry on the MPs’ register of interests did not mention that his sister Emily Gilruth also has shares and is a director of the firm, or that it has connections to the health service.
It was awarded £300,000 of business by NHS Wales this year.
The website of standards commissioner Kathryn Stone now says she is investigating whether Mr Hancock breached the code of conduct over registering shareholdings.
Matt Hancock is facing a fresh ‘cronyism’ row today after it emerged he and his sister have shares in a firm that has won contracts from the NHS
Mr Hancock declared in March that he had acquired 15 per cent of the shares in Topwood Ltd
The website of standards commissioner Kathryn Stone now says she is investigating whether Mr Hancock breached the code of conduct over registering shareholdings
Topwood received a place on the Shared Business Services framework as a potential supplier for local NHS trusts in 2019, the year after Mr Hancock took charge at the Department of Health.
A probe by Lord Geidt, the independent adviser on ministerial standards, found last month that Mr Hancock was guilty of a ‘technical’ breach of the rules after failing to declare that the company had become an approved NHS contractor.
But the ministerial sleaze watchdog ruled the contravention of the code was ‘minor’ and did not call for the Cabinet minister to resign – a recommendation the Prime Minister agreed with.
A government spokesman previously insisted that Mr Hancock – who said he had a ‘delegated management arrangement’ for the ‘gifted’ shares – had acted ‘entirely properly’.
‘Mr Hancock has acted entirely properly in these circumstances. All declarations of interest have been made in accordance with the Ministerial Code. Ministers have no involvement in the awarding of these contracts, and no conflict of interest arises.’
After the situation was highlighted by the Health Service Journal, sources insisted Mr Hancock had discussed the issue with the permanent secretary before accepting the shares, and was told that any conflicts could be handled if they arise.
The Health Secretary is said to have no ‘active participation’ in the running of the company, and was not involved in awarding contracts.
But shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said he was ‘shocked’ a company linked to Mr Hancock’s family was given a place in the NHS framework as a potential supplier.
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