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Politics

Matt Hancock ‘breached ministerial code’ says Labour

Claiming that “Tory sleaze and cronyism has engulfed” the Government, Angela Rayner said the Health Secretary had potentially broken official rules

Matt Hancock has “breached the ministerial code”, according to Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, after reports revealed the health secretary and his sister owned shares in a company awarded NHS contracts.

Labour has demanded Hancock explain his family business “sleaze” and why he did not declare the family connection after the BBC revealed NHS Wales gave the company, Topwood Ltd., £300,000 in business this year.

“The Health Secretary needs to explain in a public statement today how a company owned by his family members which he holds shares in came to win a place on a business services framework to provide services to the NHS, as well as explaining why he did not declare that the company is owned by his family members,” Rayner said. 

The government has denied any conflict of interest and health is a devolved matter in Wales. According to the BBC, public contract records show “the NHS awarded Topwood a place in its Shared Business Services framework as a potential supplier for local NHS trusts in England in 2019, the year after Mr Hancock became health secretary”.

“It appears that the Health Secretary has breached the Ministerial Code, and the public deserves answers, “ Rayner continued.

“It is clear that Tory sleaze and cronyism has engulfed this government, making it even more urgent that the government publish the delayed Register of Ministers’ Interests in full immediately. 

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“Given it was the Health Secretary who was found by the courts to have acted unlawfully on contract transparency – with this latest scandal the public will rightly expect the utmost transparency.” 

Hancock declared in the MPs’ register of interests that he had acquired more than 15% of shares in the company. However, this did not mention that his sister had a larger number of shares, nor that the company had been awarded work with the health service. 

The ministerial code states: “Ministers must scrupulously avoid any danger of an actual or perceived conflict of interest between their Ministerial position and their private financial interests”.

The news comes after a lobbying row erupted at the heart of government following revelations former prime minister David Cameron asked current government figures for access to a government loan scheme on behalf of a firm called Greensill capital. 

More allegations have been brought forward regarding a so-called “revolving door” of senior civil servants and ministers  between the public and private sector.

While no rules have been broken, critics say the regulations are murky and need to be rewritten to encourage public accountability and openness over who has access to senior political figures. 

A government spokesperson told Sky News that Matt Hancock had done nothing wrong. 

“Mr Hancock has acted entirely properly in these circumstances,” a spokesperson said.

“All declarations of interest have been made in accordance with the ministerial code. Ministers have no involvement in the awarding of these contracts, and no conflict of interest arises.”

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