PM urged to launch 'cronyism' probe into Matt Hancock's hiring of aide

Boris Johnson faces growing pressure to launch a ‘cronyism’ probe into Matt Hancock’s hiring of his close aide Gina Coladangelo for taxpayer-funded roles after pictures showed the pair kissing

  • PM yesterday accepted his Health Secretary’s apology for breaching social distancing rules after he was pictured kissing Gina Coladangelo in his office
  • Calls for Downing St to order ethics probe into appointments Mr Hancock handed to woman he’s been close to since they were at Oxford Uni together
  • Mr Hancock made Miss Coladangelo a non-executive director at Department of Health last September, on a salary of £15,000 for 15 to 20 days of work a year
  • Before that, she spent six months as an unpaid adviser in a role that was never publicly disclosed

Boris Johnson was under mounting pressure last night to launch a ‘cronyism’ investigation into Matt Hancock’s hiring of his close aide for taxpayer-funded roles.

The Prime Minister yesterday accepted his Health Secretary’s apology for breaching social distancing rules after he was pictured kissing Gina Coladangelo in his office.

But there are growing calls for Downing Street to order an ethics probe into the appointments Mr Hancock has handed to a woman he has been close to since they were at Oxford University together.

Mr Hancock made Miss Coladangelo a non-executive director at the Department of Health last September, on a salary of £15,000 for 15 to 20 days of work a year. Before that, she spent six months as an unpaid adviser in a role that was never publicly disclosed.

Between June 2019 and February 2020 Mr Hancock also arranged for Miss Coladangelo, then marketing director for her husband’s clothes and homewares shop Oliver Bonas, to have a coveted Commons pass.

Boris Johnson was under mounting pressure last night to launch a ‘cronyism’ investigation into Matt Hancock’s hiring of his close aide for taxpayer-funded roles

The Prime Minister yesterday accepted his Health Secretary’s apology for breaching social distancing rules after he was pictured kissing Gina Coladangelo in his office (above). But there are growing calls for Downing St to order an ethics probe into the appointments Mr Hancock has handed to a woman he has been close to since they were at Oxford University together 

By having an affair with a colleague or failing to disclose his long-standing friendship with her, Mr Hancock could have broken two clauses of the Ministerial Code. These require ministers to have ‘proper and appropriate’ working relationships and to ensure ‘no conflict arises between their public duties and private interests’.

Only No 10 can trigger a probe by independent adviser on ministers’ interests Lord Geidt.

Last night Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner wrote to the Prime Minister, copying in Lord Geidt, urging him to act.

She said Mr Hancock had failed to declare he was in a relationship with someone he had appointed to roles at taxpayers’ expense.

‘Such a failure would appear to be a further breach of the Ministerial Code, which in these circumstances should surely result in his removal from office,’ she wrote. 

Mr Hancock made Miss Coladangelo a non-executive director at the Department of Health last September, on a salary of £15,000 for 15 to 20 days of work a year. Before that, she spent six months as an unpaid adviser in a role that was never publicly disclosed

‘If you are not prepared to act on your own initiative as Prime Minister, I would urge you to instruct your independent adviser to immediately investigate the Health Secretary’s conduct and his apparent breach of the Ministerial Code.’

Mr Hancock has already been found to have committed a ‘minor’ breach of the Ministerial Code after he failed to declare immediately that his sister’s document-shredding firm had been given permission to win NHS contracts.

And as the Mail revealed yesterday, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone has launched a probe into his late declaration of his shares in the family firm Topwood Ltd. 

Only No 10 can trigger a probe by independent adviser on ministers’ interests Lord Geidt. Last night Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner (above) wrote to the Prime Minister, copying in Lord Geidt, urging him to act

Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said: ‘From the information publicly available, it’s clear Lord Geidt should be asked to examine and see if the Health Secretary has breached the Ministerial Code.

‘As a matter of urgency, Lord Geidt should be asked to investigate this matter.’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted yesterday that Miss Coladangelo would have gone through an ‘incredibly rigorous process’ to get any government or advisory role.

Tory peer Baroness Warsi told Channel 4 she was concerned about ‘whether or not Matt Hancock is acting in ways where his family and friend’s private interests are being put above his job’.

Matt Hancock faces sleaze probe after failing to make full declarations over shares in firm that won NHS business

By JAMES TAPSFIELD, POLITICAL EDITOR for MailOnline 

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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