politics

Gina Coladangelo: who is Hancock’s mistress and former aide given top government jobs


Coladangelo, a half-Italian communications specialist and married mother-of-three, has become the most talked about woman in Britain. Her affair with the former health secretary led to him resigning from government, leaving his wife and saying goodbye to his children.

Coladangelo, 43, has since left her husband and children, too, according to reports, and insiders are quickly scurrying to determine how long Hancock and his taxpayer-funded adviser have been having their affair.

The pair met at Oxford and both studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics there before Hancock appointed Coladangelo as his unpaid adviser in March last year. In September, he then appointed her as a non-executive director at the Department for Health and Social Care, promoting her to the board that scrutinises the department and giving her unregulated access to the Palace of Westminster since April.

So what’s the background to their relationship and what do we know about Coladangelo’s appointment to Hancock’s inner circle? From their days volunteering on a student radio station together to her millionaire husband, this is everything you need to know about the woman at the centre of this week’s Westminster scandal.

Who is Gina Coladangelo?

Gina Lucia Coladangelo was born in Hitching, Hertfordshire in 1977, to Heather, 69, a former florist, and Rino, 70, the Italian multi-millionaire chief executive of Rephine Ltd, a pharmaceutical consultancy specialising in compliance and regulatory affairs. According to his LinkedIn, he was previously a member of the Royal College of Physicians and managing director of an NHS hospital.

According to friends, her uncle is the Arsenal goalkeeping legend and veteran broadcaster Bob Wilson, who is also life president at the Willow Foundation, a charity for seriously-ill young adults for which Heather and Gina have previously worked as directors.

Matt Hancock with aide and mistress Gina Coladangelo

/ REUTERS

She also has a younger brother, Roberto, now 42 and an executive director at Partnering Health, which is understood to have contracts with the NHS.

It is unknown where Coladangelo went to school but she went on to study philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at Oxford’s Exeter College between 1995 and 1998.

According to a former university peer, Maxie Allen, she was “suave, composed and elegant” at university and her 21st birthday party at her parents’ home in Royston, Hertfordshire, was a “glamorous affair”. “They had a few bob. Gina is not the sort of person to get drunk and make a scene. She was very composed and elegant.”

Since the pictures of the 43-year-old and Hancock emerged on Friday, Coladangelo’s father has spoken out in his daughter’s defence. From his 16th century listed former farmhouse near Royston, Hertfordshire, he told the MailOnline: “My daughter is a wonderful woman,” but refused to comment on the affair rumours any further.

Who is her husband Oliver Tress?

Coladangelo was previously married to London property lawyer Glynn Gibb – they wed in 2004 and he has refused to comment on this week’s news – but the couple divorced and she has since been married to Oliver Bonas founder Oliver Tress for the last 12 years.

The multi-millionaire fashion tycoon founded his successful high street chain in 1993 at the age of 25, after graduating from Durham University and realising the corporate life wasn’t for him. He started by opening a retail store on Fulham Road, selling handbags and jewellery he’d bought in Hong Kong, where his parents were living at the time.

He moonlighted as the store’s cashier when it first opened, using a second-hand till and hiring close friends to help with the refurbishment, and says that aside from the birth of his first child, the most “euphoric” moment of his life was the end of the first Saturday in his shop. “When sales surpassed all my expectations and I realised an exciting future lay ahead of me,” he told The Independent in 2012.

Oliver Tress and Gina Coladangelo

/ David M. Benett/Getty Images for Tabitha Webb

According to accounts, the company made a £2.7 million profit in 2019 and Tress is estimated to have a net worth of around £12 million.

Little is known about how Coladangelo and Tress first met but they married in 2009 and Coladangelo has spent recent years working as the marketing and communications director for her husband’s firm alongside her work for the Department of Health and Social Care.

They have three children together and have a paid for live-in nanny at their five-bedroom family home in Wandsworth, which is thought to be worth around £4million.

They moved to the bigger home in September 2015, having previously lived in Clapham Junction where Oliver admitted they “barely had a garden”.

Matt Hancock affair accusations

/ PA Wire

Outside of London, Tress is also known to own or have owned a second property near West Wittering beach in West Sussex, where his wealthy neighbours include Sweaty Betty founder Simon Hill-Norton.

They have also spent a lot of time in Europe. “Her family have an apartment in the Alps and my parents have a farmhouse in Umbria, so we spend a lot of time there,” Tress told The Independent in 2012. “I yearn to take my family on an adventure – to live somewhere with a completely different culture.”

How has Coladangelo made her living?

Coladangelo previously worked as a director at Luther Pendragon, a lobbying firm working in communications and public affairs, and she has spent recent years working as a marketing and communications director for her husband’s firm, Oliver Bonas. According to her LinkedIn page, she has to “oversee and monitor performance”.

She says: “I have over twenty years’ experience in business management and marketing and communications, with a focus on retail, healthcare, the third sector and energy.

“Marketing expertise across media relations, consumer campaigns, social media, digital strategy, strategic collaborations, internal communications, issues management and public affairs.”

AFP via Getty Images

But alongside her day job, Coladangelo also took on an unpaid role alongside Hancock at the DHSC last March. In September, he then appointed her as a non-executive director at the Department for Health and Social Care, promoting her to the board that scrutinises the department and giving her unregulated access to the Palace of Westminster since April.

When a Sunday paper asked last year why Hancock’s “lobbyist pal” got a job, a department spokesman said her “advice and expertise” were required as part of an “unprecedented response to this global pandemic”. The appointment wasn’t against any rules, in part because there are no rules about who a government department chief can hire.

Coladangelo was recently described as Hancock’s “closest aide”, with a source telling the Sunday Times last year: “Before Matt does anything big, he’ll speak to Gina. She knows everything.” Reports claimed she has been attending confidential Downing Street meetings with the former health secretary.

Outside of work, Coladangelo is also a governor of two Beyond Autism schools in London.

Coladangelo was described as Mr Hancock’s “closest aide”

/ AFP via Getty Images

How does she know Matt Hancock?

Hancock and Coladangelo’s steamy clinch might have the look of a fledgling teenage romance, but the pair have a long history. According to reports, they have known each other for around 25 years, having been pals at Oxford University, where where Hancock also laid eyes on his future wife Martha Miller.

Both Hancock and Coladangelo studied politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at Exeter College in Oxford between 1995 and 1998 and they worked on the student radio station together in their spare time. He was a sports reporter on Oxygen FM, presenting bulletins on rowing, fencing and other minority sports, while she read the news. BBC tennis commentator Gigi Salmon also worked there at the time and friends have called them “inseparable”, despite their different reputations within the radio station.

“He volunteered there but he didn’t make much of a name for himself. Gina was the opposite, she was one of the stars of the show,” a former colleague told the Daily Mail this week. “She was quite glamorous and good looking – she had lots of attention from the boys. She also did a bit of sports presenting with Hancock, they would have worked together.”

Coladangelo knows Mr Hancock from university

/ AFP via Getty Images

Another former colleague, broadcast journalist Maxie Allen, confirmed this reputation. “Gina was very glamorous, very nice and very good looking – all the young men held a candle for her,” he told the MailOnline, saying Hancock, by contrast, cut an “obscure figure” and was “not someone you would mark out as destined for greatness”. He added: “She was suave, composed and elegant. Most men would have given their right arm to go out with her.”

Coladangelo has confirmed their close relationship at the station. “I read the news and Matt read the sport,” she recalled in a programme on BBC Radio 4 in April last year. “I’ve always joked with him that he did the sport because he wasn’t good enough to do the news, but I think it gave him a bit of an early heads up into aggressive questioning from journalists and hacks.”

The pair have kept in touch over the 20 years since they were at university together and though reports claim their romantic relationship only began six weeks ago when the footage of their kiss was taken, sources told the Mail on Sunday this weekend that the married MP is already “in love” with his former aide and theirs is a “love match”.

“They always appeared to be incredibly close,” a Tory source told the Daily Mail this week. “Her status was always slightly mysterious but she went everywhere with him. She was in every meeting.’

Insiders expect them to set up home together now both have left their respective spouses. It is unclear whether Coladangelo and Hancock’s wife Martha knew each other at university, but they remain friends on Facebook.

What has Hancock said after the affair allegations?

He said: “I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances. I have let people down and am very sorry. I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family on this personal matter.”



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