Pride of place at the top of her LinkedIn profile, Gina Coladangelo boasts of being a non-executive director at the Department of Health and Social Care. 

Her part-time appointment in September last year made headlines shortly afterwards, in part because her online listing was one of the few places where her role – at taxpayers’ expense – was made actually public.

At the bottom of her online curriculum vitae she wrote how she also attended the University of Oxford to study philosophy, politics and economics from 1995 to 1998.

It was there she met the Secretary of State for Health who was then studying the same subject, often considered essential learning for the modern political class. 

Now, their friendship spanning some 25 years – as well as their recent alleged affair – have become the focus of intense scrutiny amid claims Matt Hancock showed favouritism to someone who was at the very least a university chum.

Ms Coldangelo, 43, met Mr Hancock while they were both working at student radio at Oxford.

Matt Hancock was criticised for Ms Coladangelo's appointment because there was no public record of her role, for which she is paid £15,000 a year

Credit: Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street

Gushing with praise for him while being interviewed for Radio 4 Profile programme in April last year, she often laughed as she regaled stories about his rather unsuccessful attempts at sports journalism.

"He is very determined, he likes setting goals and meeting them," she said at the start of the show, broadcast shortly after he set ambitious targets for testing for coronavirus.

"We met at the student radio station, Oxygen FM. I read the news and Matt read the sport. I’ve always joked with him that he did the sport because he wasn’t good enough to read the news. But, I think it gave him an early heads up to aggressive questioning from journalists and hacks."

Ms Coldangelo was born in 1977 in Hertfordshire to parents Heather and Rino; her father is Italian. She has a younger brother, Roberto.

She married in 2004, before splitting up and later marrying Oliver Tress, founder of Oliver Bonas, the fashion store. The couple have three children. 

Ms Coladangelo is communications director at Oliver Bonas, as well as being a former director for Luther Pendragon, which says it has a "deep understanding of the mechanics of Government".

Gina Coladangelo is married to Oliver Tress, the founder of the fashion store Oliver Bonas

Credit: M. Benett/Getty Images

However, it emerged that in March last year Mr Hancock had appointed her "secretly" to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) as an unpaid adviser on a six-month contract. 

The move triggered claims of "chumocracy" when it emerged she had accompanied him to confidential meetings with civil servants and visited Downing Street.

In September, Mr Hancock appointed her as a non-executive director at DHSC, essentially allowing her to scrutinise how the department was operating.

However, he was criticised because there was no public record of her role, for which she is paid £15,000 a year. 

At the time a DHSC spokesman said: "As part of an unprecedented response to this global pandemic we rightly have drawn on the expertise of a number of private sector partners who provided advice and expertise."

It also emerged she had a parliamentary pass, giving her unfettered access to the Palace of Westminster. The pass bears her husband’s name and is sponsored by Lord Bethell, the hereditary peer, health minister and former lobbyist.

Ms Coldangelo is now officially listed on the Government department’s website. 

During the BBC Profile she revealed her extensive knowledge of Mr Hancock’s childhood and university life.

Matt Hancock married Martha, an osteopath, in 2006. The pair have three children

Credit: Pete Maclaine/i-Images

She said: "His parents separated when he was very young. But, they both happily remarried. And, I think his mother in particular was a very strong influence on him. She really was the brains behind their family business which they started in their kitchen at home; the first bit of software that if you put it into an internet browser would help you to find a postcode. 

"So if you put a postcode in there it would give you your address. It was obviously breakthrough technology back then. 

"I think he learnt a lot from growing up with that business." 

She also told of his attempts to try his hand at sports journalism. "He got one of these special tickets to go and sit in the press box – with all the other serious journalists I should say – at Twickenham to watch a big match, I think it was Australia, England.

"He actually overslept and hotfooted it to the train. But didn’t make it back to Twickenham in time from Oxford. So, [he] had to get off the train at Reading, find a pub, watch the first half in the pub and then go to a phone box outside and report in." 

So he told a white lie, pretended he was at Twickenham watching the rugby, when he was in fact in a pub at Reading.

"Successfully nobody ever found out," she said. 

Mr Hancock married Martha, an osteopath, in 2006. They too had met at Oxford University. The pair have three children.