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by Louise Wilson
25 June 2021
Call for cronyism investigation after reports of Matt Hancock affair

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images

Call for cronyism investigation after reports of Matt Hancock affair

Questions have been raised about the appointment of a personal friend of Matt Hancock as an aide following reports of an extra-marital affair.

The SNP has said a full public inquiry must be instigated into cronyism within the UK Government, which it says is “out of control”.

And Labour has also said the government needs to be “open and transparent” about conflicts of interest.

But UK government minister Grant Shapps has said all appointments went through an “incredibly rigorous process”.

It follows The Sun publishing photos of the health secretary and Gina Coladangelo which appeared to show the two having an affair.

Coladangelo was appointed as a non-executive director at the Department of Health last September on a salary of £15,000 for 15-20 days work per year.

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said: “Private matters are just that, but public appointments are another matter entirely – and they warrant proper scrutiny and full transparency.

“There must be an investigation into this appointment and a full public inquiry into the Tory cronyism scandal engulfing Westminster, which is out of control.”

But speaking to Sky News on Friday morning, Shapps insisted the matter was “entirely personal” and the suggestion there was something untoward about the appointment was a “red herring”.

He said: “Anyone who has been appointed has to go through an incredibly rigorous process in government, so whatever the rules are, the rules will have to be followed. There is no shortcutting.”

Concerns have previously been raised about the awarding of contracts throughout the COVID crisis.

A Labour spokesperson said: “Ministers, like everyone, are entitled to a 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 interest or rules that have been broken.”

Read the most recent article written by Louise Wilson - Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces £170m 'levelling up' funding for Scotland

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