Boris Johnson must launch inquiry into Matt Hancock affair ‘as matter of urgency’ says former Standards chief

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock (L), looks at the phone of his aide Gina Coladangelo
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock (L), looks at the phone of his aide Gina Coladangelo as they leave the BBC in central London on June 6, 2021 Getty
  • Boris Johnson told to investigate whether Matt Hancock’s affair with an aide breached official rules.
  • Leaked pictures show Hancock kissing Gina Coladangelo, who he had hired as an advisor.
  • Former Standards chief Sir Alistair Graham told Insider: “there is a serious possibility Hancock has failed… to uphold standards.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Boris Johnson must ask officials to launch an inquiry into whether the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock broke the ministerial code “as a matter of urgency,” a former standards chief has told Insider.

Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, called for the probe after photographs showing the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, kissing an advisor, Gina Coladangelo in his office at the Department of Health and Social Care were published by The Sun on Friday.

The UK prime minister stood by Hancock on Friday after he issued an apology for breaching Covid social distancing guidelines, during his relationship with Coladangelo.

However, Graham told Insider that questions remain about Hancock’s appointment of his aide and his actions in office.

He said the prime minister’s adviser on ministerial interests, Lord Geidt should immediately launch an inquiry to investigate whether Hancock broke ministerial rules.

“From the information publicly available, it’s clear Lord Geidt should be asked to examine and see if the Health Secretary has breached the ministerial code,” Graham said.

“As a matter of urgency Lord Geidt should be asked to investigate this matter.

“The Prime Minister saying he considers the matter closed is just a stock line, hoping people will move on.

He added: “There is an expectation for ministers to show leadership. But there is a serious possibility Hancock has failed to show leadership and to uphold standards.”

Launching an investigation into a member of the UK government remains a decision for the Prime Minister alone, as does the decision on the sanctions to be taken should a breach be found.

The Health Secretary apologised on Friday but declined to step aside.

In a statement he said: “I accept I breached social distancing guidance in these circumstances. I have let people down and am very sorry. I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic and would be grateful for privacy for my family on this personal matter.”

In a briefing to journalists on Friday, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson also repeatedly refused to offer any further comment beyond Hancock’s statement.

The spokesperson would not be drawn on if Geidt had been asked to open an investigation, saying instead that “the prime minister has accepted the health secretary’s apology and considers the matter closed.”

Hancock, who has been married since 2006, hired the former lobbyist Coladangelo as an unpaid advisor during the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, the Sunday Times reported in November.

She was later appointed as a non-executive director at the Department of Health and Social Care, earning £15,000 a year for 15 to 20 days of work a year.

A Labour party spokesman said: “This matter is definitely not closed, despite the Government’s attempts to cover it up.

“Matt Hancock appears to have been caught breaking the laws he created while having a secret relationship with an aide he appointed to a taxpayer-funded job. The Prime Minister recently described him as “useless” – the fact that even now he still can’t sack him shows how spineless he is.”