Labour demands release of documents on Gina Coladangelo’s appointment to £15k role

Married aide Mrs Coladangelo was captured in an embrace with Matt Hancock in a breach of coronavirus regulations

Labour has demanded all documents relating to the recruitment of Gina Coladangelo to a £15,000 per year role be released following her alleged affair with the Health Secretary.

Married aide Mrs Coladangelo was captured in an embrace with Matt Hancock in footage obtained by The Sun, which led to him stepping down from his role as Health Secretary the following day after he admitted breaking coronavirus rules.

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Married aide Mrs Coladangelo was captured in an embrace with Matt Hancock (Photo: Getty Images)

The footage has reignited concerns about how she was moved into the role as a non-executive director at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in the first place, as there was no public record of her appointment.

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At a glance: 5 key points

- Mrs Coladangelo, who is married to Oliver Tress, founder of British retailer Oliver Bonas, was initially taken on as an unpaid adviser in the DHSC on a six-month contract in March last year, before being appointed as a non-executive director at the department.

- The role offers a salary of £15,000 per year for 15 to 20 days of work and is described on the Government website as, in part, “to act in an independent manner bringing expertise, scrutiny and challenge”.

- It is unclear if Mrs Coladangelo has taken any pay, but an advert posted for four positions just days before she was appointed in September 2020 said Mr Hancock would determine their tenure, up to a period of three years.

- Mr Hancock resigned from his role as Health Secretary the day after video footage emerged of him kissing Mrs Coladangelo in his ministerial office.

- Former Chancellor and Home Secretary Sajid Javid was appointed as the new Health Secretary just 90 minutes after Downing Street announced Mr Hancock had resigned on Saturday (26 June) evening.

What’s been said

Mrs Coladangelo is a friend of Mr Hancock’s from their days together at Oxford University, where they met at the university’s student radio station, Oxygen FM. She was a newsreader and he was a sports reporter.

She was appointed to the DHSC last year and was initially taken on as an unpaid adviser on a six-month contract in March 2020, but later went on to be appointed as a non-executive director at the department.

In a letter to DHSC permanent secretary Sir Chris Wormald, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said questions need to be answered over what steps were taken to avoid a conflict of interest.

Ms Rayner said Mr Wormald had assured her in April this year that Mrs Coladangelo’s appointment to initially provide communications support for Mr Hancock was “short-term in nature, and made in response to an urgent need for specific advice or assistance”, and was therefore reasonable.

However, after she was later made a non-executive director in the department, Ms Rayner said there were a number of “urgent questions” that needed addressing.

These include exactly what advice or assistance Mrs Coladangelo provided Mr Hancock with, the recruitment process she went through, and whether any conflict of interest concerns had been raised.

Ms Raynor also asked whether “at any point during the recruitment of Gina Coladangelo, or at any point subsequently, did the Secretary of State mention or declare any personal relationship between himself and Gina Coladangelo”.

Background

Mr Hancock wrote to the Prime Minister on Saturday (26 June) stating he had let the people of the country down by breaching guidance.

He said: “The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis.

“I want to reiterate my apology for breaking the guidance, and apologise to my family and loved ones for putting them through this. I also need to be with my children at this time.

“We owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down as I have done by breaching the guidance.”

Mr Hancock paid tribute to NHS staff and DHSC officials and admitted that “we didn’t get every decision right”.

In a video posted on Twitter, he added: “I understand the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country has made, you have made. And those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I’ve got to resign.”

Mr Hancock is accused of breaking the ministerial code and in a letter to Mr Johnson, Ms Rayner said Lord Geidt, the independent adviser on ministerial interests, should probe his behaviour.

Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds also said if Mr Hancock, who has been married to the mother of his three children, Martha, for 15 years, had been secretly having a relationship with an adviser he appointed to a taxpayer-funded role, it was “a blatant abuse of power and a clear conflict of interest”.

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