politics

Matt Hancock under fire over alleged affair with close aide Gina Coladangelo


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cabinet minister was today forced to deny that Matt Hancock’s alleged affair with an aide in the health department broke social distancing rules.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also insisted that Whitehall rules had not been flouted by the reported appointment of Gina Coladangelo as an unpaid adviser to the Health Secretary on a six-month contract last year and then to the department’s board.

However, Labour called on the Government to be “open and transparent about whether there are any conflicts of interests or rules that have been broken”.

The Sun today published a CCTV picture allegedly showing Mr Hancock, 42, in an embrace with Ms Coladangelo, 43, in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) shortly after 3pm on May 6.

Mr Shapps told LBC radio: “I have seen the photo but, as ever with private matters, I always try to avoid commenting on other people’s personal lives and I think I’ll stick with that tradition here.”

Asked whether the Health Secretary was “ignoring social distancing”, Mr Shapps replied: “I’m quite sure that whatever the rules were at the time were followed. You’ll recall that there was a point at which social distancing rules were changed but, as I say, I don’t want to comment on somebody else’s private life — that is for them.”

Matt Hancock’s wife’s Martha leaving home on Friday

/ Jeremy Selwyn

Ms Coladangelo and the Health Secretary reportedly met when they were students at Oxford University.

Asked about rules around appointing friends to government positions, Mr Shapps said: “Anyone who has been appointed has to go through an incredibly rigorous process in Government, so whatever the rules are, the rules will have to be followed. There are no shortcuts to that, as anyone who has had anything to do with the appointments system in the Civil Service knows. There are very strict rules in place.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “Ministers, like everyone, are entitled to a private life. However, when taxpayers’ money is involved or jobs are being offered to close friends who are in a personal relationship with a minister, then that needs to be looked into.



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