Matt Hancock faces calls to resign after allegation of affair with aide
- Credit: PA
Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock is facing calls to resign following claims of an alleged affair with a close aide.
Pictures showing the married 42-year-old in a passionate clinch kissing Gina Coladangelo, 43, have been published today by The Sun newspaper.
The report claims the pictures were captured on a camera at his Whitehall office in early May. It wasn't until May 17 that hugging was allowed outside people's own household and support bubble.
Mr Hancock has been married to wife Martha for 15 years, and they have three children. Ms Coladangelo is the marketing and communications director at Oliver Bonas, a British retailer founded by her husband Oliver Tress.
No official statement has been issued by Mr Hancock, but a friend of the health secretary's reportedly told The Sun they had 'no comment' on the matter, but that 'no rules' had been breached.
In an interview this morning, Transport Secretary Grant Schapps said he would not be commenting on an "entirely personal" matter after the pictures were published.
Grant Shapps told Sky News that former lobbyist Gina Coladangelo - who the Health Secretary met at university - would have gone through an "incredibly rigorous" process to get the job.
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Asked about the rules around appointing friends to Government positions, Mr Shapps said: "First of all, I think the actual issue is entirely personal for Matt Hancock.
"In terms of rules, 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 are no short cuts to that, as anyone who has had anything to do with the appointments system in the Civil Service knows.
"There are very strict rules in place."
Labour said the Government needs to answer whether the Health Secretary had broken any rules or there had been "conflicts of interest" in the appointment of his closest adviser.
Labour Party chair, Anneliese Dodds said: "The charge sheet against Matt Hancock includes wasting taxpayers' money, leaving care homes exposed and now being accused of breaking his own Covid rules.
"His position is hopelessly untenable. Boris Johnson should sack him."
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said on Twitter: "The reason Matt Hancock should resign is that he is a terrible Health Secretary, not because of his private life.
"From the PPE scandal, the crisis in our care service and the unbelievably poor test and trace system, he has utterly failed."
Mr Hancock was not at his north London home on Friday morning.
The news comes just days after it was alleged Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly called the West Suffolk MP "hopeless" during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. That claim was made by former government advisor Dominic Cummings.
Mr Cummings, who left Downing Street following a power struggle last year, had already taken a sideswipe at the Conservative cabinet minister, claiming Mr Hancock should have been fired for several things - including lying to the public and in meetings.
Mr Cummings has published a screenshot apparently showing a WhatsApp exchange between himself and Mr Johnson.
On March 3 last year, the controversial former aide highlighted the US’s ramping up of testing capacity and criticised Mr Hancock for saying he was “sceptical” about meeting a target.
Mr Johnson purportedly responded: “Totally ******* hopeless.”
Mr Hancock has denied the Brexit campaigner’s allegations and said it was “telling” that he was yet to provide the joint Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee with written evidence.