politics

Ministers face email probe after Matt Hancock accused of using private account


Ministers face a probe by the Information Commissioner into their use of private emails rather than official government accounts.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock reportedly relied on his personal gmail account to conduct Government business.

Health minister Lord Bethell, who sponsored his boss’s lover Gina Coladangelo for a parliamentary pass, is also accused of using his private email for government business.

And last night it emerged that a third health minister, Helen Whately, used her private gmail account for work.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said she was considering what action she may take about ministers’ use of private emails.

She added: “I am looking carefully at the information that has come to light over the past few days and considering what further steps may be necessary to address the concerns raised with me.”



Labour's Deputy Angela Rayner demanded answers about whether ministers were using personal emails for Government business
Labour’s Deputy Angela Rayner demanded answers about whether ministers were using personal emails for Government business

The PM’s spokesman said: “Both the former health secretary and Lord Bethell understand the rules around personal email usage and only ever conducted government business through their departmental email addresses”.

But the row has led to questions for Boris Johnson over his own communications.

Ex-top aide Dominic Cummings claimed the PM and Mr Hancock regularly used Whatsapp instead of official channels to discuss procurement during the pandemic.

Referring to the PM’s spokesman’s comments, he said: “This is nonsense.

“PM’s PPS knows it. Cabinet Secretary knows it. I can prove it with screenshots from my phone.”

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner warned that if the PM used personal communications for official business it would be “rank incompetence” which would put national security at risk.

In the Commons, she produced minutes from a Department of Health meeting at which senior civil servants report government contracts being approved from Lord Bethell’s private email.

Labour is calling called for the Government to make sure all relevant emails, Whatsapp and text messages are handed over to the public inquiry.

“The use of personal email accounts was clearly endemic in the Department of Health and Social Care,” she said.

“The public and the bereaved families in particular deserve nothing less than full transparency and accountability, and a guarantee there will be no more cover ups.”

But Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez said at the height of the pandemic ministers were receiving “a huge volume of correspondence” via their personal emails as well as official addresses.





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