New ‘chumocracy’ row as Matt Hancock hands job as a close adviser to lobbyist friend from university

Matt Hancock was at the centre of a ‘chumocracy’ cronyism row today after it emerged he gave a  job in the Department of Health to a PR consultant and lobbyist who is one of his closest friends from university.

The Health Secretary made Gina Coladangelo a part-time non-executive director of the department on a reported £15,000 salary while she remains the marketing and communications director of High Street retailer Oliver Bonas.

He has been spotted several times coming out of Number 10 with the former partner at the comms firm Luther Pendragon since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Ms Coladangelo, 42, has also been given a parliamentary pass sponsored by Tory peer Lord Bethel, the Sunday Times reported, despite not working for his team.

The paper also reported she was made an unpaid adviser in the Department of Health on a six-month contract in March, before she took up her paid role, with a source saying:  ‘Before Matt does anything big, he’ll speak to Gina. She knows everything.’ 

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘Another week another cronyism scandal. 

‘Whether it’s giving contracts worth millions of pounds to their chums or giving lobbyist mates jobs and access to secret information, this government is making a mockery of our national effort against coronavirus.’

It came as campaigners submitted a legal challenge alleging that Boris Johnson and Mr  Hancock acted ‘unlawfully’ when appointing key figures to top posts during the coronavirus crisis, it has been reported.

The Observer said that the case had been lodged jointly by the Good Law Project and race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust.

Mr Hancock leaving 10 Downing Street with Gina Coladangelo on May 1, when she is reported to have been acting as an unpaid adviser to the Health Secretary

He has been spotted several times coming out of Number 10 with the former partner at the comms firm Luther Pendragon since the coronavirus pandemic began

He has been spotted several times coming out of Number 10 with the former partner at the comms firm Luther Pendragon since the coronavirus pandemic began

Ms Coladangelo's LinkedIn page notes that she was appointed a part-time non-executive director at DHSC in September

Ms Coladangelo’s LinkedIn page notes that she was appointed a part-time non-executive director at DHSC in September

Ms Coladangelo’s LinkedIn page notes that she was appointed a part-time non-executive director at DHSC in September, but there is no announcement on the Government’s own website.

She studied politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at Oxford between 1995 and 1998. Mr Hancock studied the same subject. 

It is understood that ministers are allowed to make such short-term appointments and that there are plans to formally announce her non-executive directorship, and she declared all relevant conflicts of interest. 

Last week it was revealed a PR firm run by Lord Feldman represents a testing company handed a £28million Government contract after a meeting in which the former Tory chairman was  advising Matt Hancock on Covid.

Lord Feldman insists he had no involvement in the award of the multi-million pound contract despite his business now advising Oxford Nanopore after he worked for the Department of Health at the start of the pandemic.

The arrangement was been branded ‘troubling’ by Labour as a devastating report today lifted the lid on the cronyism and ineptitude that has characterised the Government’s £18billion rush to source PPE and other equipment during the coronavirus crisis. 

The public list of meetings held by Matt Hancock has revealed that on April 1 the Health Secretary and Lord Feldman, David Cameron’s best friend and former Tory party chairman, met with coronavirus test maker Oxford Nanopore. 

Next Page