Hancock personally appointed aide to key role, Downing Street indicates

Former health secretary Matt Hancock personally appointed the aide he was caught on CCTV kissing in breach of coronavirus guidance to a paid role at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Downing Street has indicated.

Labour demanded answers on Monday after it emerged, in the wake of his resignation, that Mr Hancock was likely to have been behind the appointment of Gina Coladangelo to the £15,000-a-year role.

Mr Hancock stood down on Saturday after leaked footage showed him in an intimate embrace with Mrs Coladangelo on May 6, when such contact between households was advised against.

There were also questions about how his long-term friend was brought into the DHSC first as an unpaid adviser, before getting the director role in September.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “As far as I’m aware, I believe ministers are entitled to make direct appointments and I believe that was the case in this instance.

“Her appointment followed correct procedure.”

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister Fleur Anderson said the “matter is far from closed” despite Mr Hancock’s resignation.

“The Government must publish all documents relating to the appointment of Gina Coladangelo,” she said.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock with adviser Gina Coladangelo
Former health secretary Matt Hancock with adviser Gina Coladangelo (Yui Mok/PA)

“The role of a non-executive director is to challenge and scrutinise the minister. We need to know if the nature of their relationship was declared and whether the recruitment process was carried out in a fair and transparent way.”

It remains unclear if their romantic relationship began before or after she was appointed to the department, or if this was ever declared as a conflict of interest.

But Justice Secretary Robert Buckland insisted the correct procedures were followed.

“Everything that I understand so far leads me to believe due process was followed in the appointment of this person and any declarations that should’ve been made were made,” he told Sky News.

The health department was yet to say whether Mrs Coladangelo remained in the role.