Matt Hancock: the unanswered questions, from his use of private emails to when his affair with Gina Coladangelo began
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Hancock’s resignation was forced after The Sun revealed he had been engaged in an affair with an aide, Gina Coladangelo and broke Covid restrictions in doing so.
Despite the Prime Minister saying he considered the matter “closed,” the revelations raise a number of questions about Coladangelo’s role in government and transparency.
When did the affair begin?
One of the most hotly disputed aspects of Hancock’s affair with also-married Coladangelo is how long it has been going on.
The footage leaked to The Sun is reportedly from the start of May, and sources close to Hancock have claimed that the affair only began around that time.
Colandangelo was first brought into government to help with Matt Hancock’s leadership bid in 2019, and then later as an unpaid adviser, before taking on a paid role as a non-executive director in Hancock’s department.
The pair met at university and have remained friends since, and there have been reports that questions have previously been raised in Westminster about the nature of their relationship.
How did the CCTV footage get out?
An investigation has been launched by the government into how the footage showing Hancock’s embrace with Coladangelo got out.
The Times reports that the footage was sent by an opponent of Hancock’s within his department, who initially contacted a Covid-sceptic group on Instagram to try and place it in the press.
Hancock has said that he was unaware the camera was in his office, and it was reportedly hidden inside a fire alarm.
Sajid Javid has confirmed that the camera has been disabled.
Did their relationship factor in the decision to hire her?
However long their affair has been going on, it is clear that Hancock and Coladangelo had a relationship of some kind prior to her appointment to a paid government role.
Labour has called for an investigation into how Coladangelo, whose background is not in health, was brought into the role due, and whether the decision was influenced by her friendship and/or romantic relationship with the Health Secretary.
Will Hancock receive severance?
As a minister, Hancock was entitled to receive a severance payment of £16,000 upon his resignation.However, there have been reports that Hancock will not accept the payment - though he is yet to confirm this.
Was Hancock using a private email account?
Since Hancock’s resignation there have been further reports about misconduct while he was in office.
The Sunday Times reports that Hancock and another health minister, Lord Bethell, had been using Gmail accounts to conduct government business.
This is in breach of the ministerial code, and could lead to serious issues relating to transparency, particularly in the event of an inquiry into Covid.
Labour has called for a “full investigation”.
Why did Coladangelo have a parliamentary pass?
Coladangelo had a parliamentary pass which gave her access to the Palace of Westminster.
In order to receive the pass she was sponsored by Lord Bethell, a friend of Hancock’s, back in April 2020.
As she wasn’t brought on in an official role until November, it is unclear why she had a parliamentary pass.
Were there any other conflicts of interest?
This is not the first time Matt Hancock has attracted controversy for his actions as Health Secretary.
He has been criticised over the issuance of large procurement contracts to people with links to the Conservative party, including the old landlord of his local pub.
Many have questioned whether there may be further conflicts of interest related to Hancock, in light of the revelations about his affair.
PHL Group, a firm which won government contracts during the pandemic employs Roberto Coladangelo, Gina’s brother, as strategy director.
The firm has stressed that these were awarded properly and were not related to the Department of Health and Social Care.
How many other times did the Health secretary break Covid rules?
It is as yet unclear how long the affair between Coladangelo and Hancock has been going on.
It seems unlikely that the only instance of Hancock breaking the Covid regulations was captured on his office CCTV.
So how many times did the health secretary break his own rules?Coladangelo attended a G7 meeting at Oxford University last month.
The meeting involved health ministers from G7 countries discussing future pandemic preparedness and other issues.
Taking place on June 3 and June 4, the event included an overnight stay.