Unanswered questions remain over Matt Hancock’s hiring of aide Gina Coladangelo, campaigners have said (Picture: AFP)
Matt Hancock hired Gina Coladangelo through a private appointment that campaigners say raises ‘serious questions’ over why the Government was recruiting for identical roles at the same time.
The minister signed off his long-term friend’s non-executive director post before the application period had ended for four other jobs with the same title being advertised by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
While Ms Coladangelo’s job is said to not have been one of those inviting applications, her appointment to the DHSC’s board was made by the then health secretary 10 days before the deadline for the competitive posts.
The terms and conditions showed Mr Hancock directly appointed his university friend – who was later revealed to be his secret lover – with remuneration of £15,000 for two to three days per month.
At the same time, the other posts were being advertised on the Non-Executive Director Network website, with the listing stating that the roles were ‘nationwide’ and involved providing ‘strategic leadership’.
Ms Coladangelo’s terms and conditions, which have been disclosed by the DHSC after a Freedom of Information Act request by Metro.co.uk, show that her role began on September 1, 2021 and was due to end on August 31, 2023. She attended four board meetings – which included briefings on the Government’s Covid strategy – up to last month.
The adviser quit her post after being shown on surveillance camera footage in an intimate clinch with Mr Hancock on May 6, with an image of the embrace published by The Sun last month.
Mr Hancock also resigned after the revelations about his affair with Ms Coladangelo, who is communications director at fashion and lifestyle store Oliver Bonas, and was replaced by Sajid Javid.
The terms and conditions that Gina Coladangelo signed up to as she was hired by Matt Hancock for a DHSC non-executive director role (Picture: DHSC)
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner MP said: ‘The stink of sleaze coming from this Government has polluted our politics for too long. The DHSC must publish all correspondence and documents regarding this appointment process, but this is not just about one case.
‘The whole scandal of ministers’ mates pocketing £1,000 a day of taxpayers’ money to sit as non-executive directors must end. Labour would clean up politics, starting with overhauling the non-executive director process and bringing in a single ethics and integrity commission with the power to oversee and enforce all anti-corruption and ethics laws and regulations.’
The Good Law Project, a not-for-profit campaign group, has been pursuing a series of legal challenges over the Government’s handling of the pandemic, calling for more transparency and accountability from ministers.
Matt Hancock shown in the cuddle with his aide Gina Coladangelo in a still taken from CCTV footage (Picture: EPA)
Director Jo Maugham told Metro.co.uk: ‘There are serious questions to be answered here. What was the purpose of this open recruitment process in circumstances where the Secretary of State was appointing his lover to the advertised paid public post outside it?’
The terms and conditions signed by Ms Coladangelo state ‘it is essential that you are, and are seen to be, honest and impartial in the exercise of your duties’, the document shows.
The agreement also reads: ‘You must declare to the Secretary of State or Permanent Secretary any personal or business interest which may or may be perceived (by a reasonable member of the public) to influence your judgement in performing your functions and obligations under this agreement.’
Matt Hancock looks at the phone of his aide Gina Coladangelo outside the BBC studios in central London on June 6, 2021 (Picture: AFP)
There is no mention of whether Ms Coladangelo disclosed her connections to Mr Hancock, which includes their time at Oxford University in the 1990s and a friendship between their families.
As of April 2021, there were three other non-executive directors at the DHSC: Kate Lampard, Dough Gurr and Gerry Murphy. It’s not known who eventually was hired as a result of the openly advertised vacancies.
The DHSC maintains that Ms Coladangelo’s appointment was separate to a the full recruitment campaign last year and followed the correct procedure.
The department’s stance is that, as with other Government branches, some non-executive director roles are made through competition and others are appointed directly.
A spokesperson for the Commissioner for Public Appointments, which regulates ministerial appointments, said departmental non-executive director roles are not within its remit.
Metro.co.uk has made attempts to contact Ms Coladangelo for comment.
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