Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaves 10 Downing Street with aide Gina Coladangelo after the daily press briefing on May 01, 2020 in London, England
Dan Kitwood / Getty Images
  • UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock had an affair with an aide he hired on a £15,000 (R293,151,06) contract, The Sun reported.
  • Hancock was pictured embracing Gina Coladangelo, a close friend from university who he hired.
  • A Labour spokesperson said when "jobs are being offered to close friends who are in a personal relationship with a minister, then that needs to be looked into."
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The UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock was photographed appearing to kiss a close personal friend who he hired as an advisor, raising questions about a potential conflict of interest after he appointed her to a £15,000-a-year (R293,151,06) role at the health department.

The Sun on Friday published photos that appeared to capture Hancock locked in an embrace with Gina Coladangelo in his office at the Department for Health.

Hancock, who is married, secretly hired former lobbyist Coladangelo as an adviser last year, The Sunday Times previously reported. The pair met at Oxford University and remained close friends before he appointed her as an adviser in March and later gave her a role as a non-executive director at the Department of Health.

Her LinkedIn profile states that she has served in that role since September 2020, but there was no public record of her appointment, the Sunday Times reported.

The UK's ministerial code does not prevent ministers from engaging in sexual relationships with aides, said Catherine Haddon, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government.

But the opposition Labour party said the report raised concerns over a potential conflict of interest.

A Labour spokesperson said: "Ministers, like everyone, are entitled to private life. However, when taxpayers' money is involved or jobs are being offered to close friends who are in a personal relationship with a minister, then that needs to be looked into

"The Government needs to be open and transparent about whether there are any conflicts of interests or rules that have been broken." The photographs were stills taken from closed-circuit television cameras at the health department on May 6.

Less than two weeks later, Hancock urged British people to minimise indoor contact with others to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Hancock has not commented on the report. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Friday said that he would not comment on an "entirely personal" matter but added: "In terms of rules, anyone who's been appointed has to go through an incredibly rigorous process in government. Whatever the rules are, the rules will have to be followed."

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