Matt Hancock, the former British health secretary.
  • Matt Hancock appointed Gina Coladangelo to the UK health department board in September 2020.
  • She was, unusually, hired outside of another hiring process for non-executive directors.
  • The government defended its handling of the hiring, including deleting job ads linked to the roles.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

The British government defended deleting details on the appointments process for department board members, following scrutiny of the non-executive director (NED) system in Whitehall.

It stems from criticism around the hiring of Gina Coladangelo, an aide to former Health Secretary Matt Hancock who was revealed to be his lover in a tabloid newspaper sting.

Uproar over video showing the two kissing in his ministerial office - a breach of social-distancing regulations - led to Hancock resigning.

During Hancock's tenure, Coladangelo was given a job as a NED for the health department with unusual speed.

At the same time, department officials ran a slower hiring process for four other NED vacancies, only one of which was filled.

NEDs are paid £15,000 ($20,600) for 15 to 20 days of work a year.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) published ads for the job on August 19, 2020, with an expected closure date of September 11, according to a copy of the ad stored by the National Archives.

Coladangelo was appointed on September 1, before the initial application period was due to end.

By September 17, the page was taken down.

Old links to it - such as one on the DHSC LinkedIn page - automatically redirect to the public appointments homepage. It means the government is no longer hosting a record of any details on the timing of the application process or who was on the interview panel.

As reported by Metro.co.uk, campaigners questioned the integrity of the process that saw Coladangelo put on the government payroll while others were still being invited to apply.

The Good Law Project, a campaigning group, said the timing "raises serious concerns that Matt Hancock may have bypassed his own department's recruitment process to fast-track the appointment of Gina Coladangelo."

The page advertising the NED jobs said that applicants needed the "professional credibility and authority to challenge DHSC leaders" and must have the "highest standards of personal propriety in relation to governance, accountability, risk and financial management".

According to the Cabinet Office, which oversees NED hiring, all appointments are "subject to a fair, open and transparent recruitment process."

In a statement to Insider, the Cabinet Office defended removing the ad pages. It said they were taken down because NED roles are not regulated appointments, and therefore get deleted automatically.

A DHSC spokesperson declined to comment on the details of the recruitment process.

Peter Riddell, the Commissioner for Public Appointments, is responsible for regulated appointments. He has previously spoken of his "concerns over lack of transparency in unregulated public appointments".

The Committee on Standards in Public Life called for regulation of the appointment process for NEDs in their June report, Standards Matter 2.

Hancock remains a backbench MP. In a letter accepting his resignation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he believed Hancock's "contribution to public service is far from over."

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