Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo: just the latest in the long history of Westminster sex scandals

Matt Hancock has been accused of having an extra-marital affair with aide Gina Coladangelo. He’s certainly not the first UK politician to become embroiled in a sex scandal.

Clockwise from top left: Christine Keeler, John Profumo, Matt Hancock, David Mellor and Edwina Currie (Photos: Getty)

“Steamy clinch” was how The Sun described the kiss between health secretary Matt Hancock and aide Gina Coladangelo, alongside CCTV picture of the pair embracing.

It remains to be seen how the scandal will affect the career of the already embattled minister, but where does it rank in the long and salacious history of political sex scandals in the UK?

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We look back at some of the most notable ‘marmalade droppers’ of all time.

Arguably the most infamous political scandal of the 20th century, and one that would take down a prime minister. John Profumo was the Secretary of State for War in Harold MacMillan’s Tory Government. He embarked on an extra-marital affair with teenage model Christine Keeler in 1961, which he denied in Parliament. When the truth emerged it discredited the government, prompting MacMillan’s resignation.
Depicted recently in the TV drama A Very English Scandal, Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe’s affair with male model Norman Josiffe (otherwise known as Norman Scott) in the early 1960s caused a sensation when it emerged more than a decade later. Thorpe was later accused of conspiring to murder Scott, but acquitted on all charges.
The Tories in the 1990s were no strangers to the tabloids. When Norman Lamont and his wife, Rosemary, moved into No 11, they rented their house in Notting Hill through an agency to a tenant, who, the Sunday tabloids discovered, earned £90 an hour as a 'kinky sex therapist' under the professional title of 'Miss Whiplash'. The Lamonts had no knowledge of her form of employment, but it damaged the Chancellor’s reputation.
In 1991, arts minister David Mellor remarked that "the press – the popular press – is drinking in the last chance saloon" and called for curbs on press freedom. That comment would come back to haunt him the following year when his former lover, actress Antonia de Sancha, sold her story of their affair to the papers. A number of the allegations were untrue, but it still piled pressure on Mellor, who resigned later that year.
The larger than life Tory transport minister was said to be proud of the rumours around his multiple mistresses in the early 1990s. But when asked if that was the case, he replied, “Not proud of it, no. That's not me at all...” He was said to have kept his job in John Major’s government because, unlike others, he had never preached on lifestyle choices.
It didn’t emerge until 2013, but former Tory MP Edwina Currie (left) had a four-year affair with ex-PM John Major when they were both serving as ministers under Margaret Thatcher in the mid-1980s. She said she ended the affair in 1988 because "we could not continue without risking discovery". It turns out her 1994 novel A Parliamentary Affair perhaps wasn’t entirely fictional.