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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has cancelled a public appearance as he faces allegations of having an affair with his closest aide.
Mr Hancock was due to visit a Pharmacy2U vaccine site at Newmarket Racecourse during a visit to his constituency of West Suffolk.
But the appearance was scrapped after photos emerged appearing to show the Health Secretary and adviser Gina Coladangelo kissing inside his office at the Department of Health in Whitehall.
It came at a time when the Government's ban on hugging and close contact was still in effect and it was urging people to comply with the coronavirus lockdown rule.
Mr Hancock and his wife Martha have been married for 15 years and have three children. Mum-of-three Mrs Coladangelo is married to Oliver Tress, who founded the fashion firm Oliver Bonas.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaves 10 Downing Street with aide Gina Coladangelo in May last year
(Image: Getty Images)
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.
Hancock, 42, controversially hired 43-year-old Mrs Coladangelo – who he first met at Oxford University in the early 2000s – in March last year.
As CCTV images of the kiss were published by the Sun, a friend of the Health Secretary told the Mirror: “He has no comment on personal matters. No rules have been broken.”
The Mirror has attempted to contact Mr Hancock and Mrs Coladangelo for comment.
Mr and Mrs Hancock, pictured at a music awards show in 2018, have been married since 2006
(Image: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment)
A Whitehall source told the Sun that the Health Secretary's behaviour "in the middle of a pandemic with an adviser and friend he used public money to hire” is shocking.
CCTV images show Mr Hancock and his aide appearing to passionately kiss in his office just after 3pm on May 6, the day local elections were held.
According to a whistleblower, the pair have "regularly" been caught in clinches together.
The source was reported to have said: “They have tried to keep it a secret but everyone knows what goes on inside a building like that.
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"I’m just amazed he was so brazen about it as he was the Secretary of State.
"It has also shocked people because he put her in such an important, publicly-funded role and this is what they get up to in office hours when everyone else is working hard."
Rumours are said to have been circulating within the department – with colleagues openly discussing it via WhatsApp.
Reported to be a millionaire, Mrs Coladangelo is a communications director with Oliver Bonas.
Ms Coladangelo and her husband, Oliver Bonas founder Oliver Tress, attend an event in September 2014
(Image: Getty Images Europe)
She is also a major shareholder of the London-based lobbying and public relations firm Luther Pendragon, which offers clients a “deep understanding of the mechanics of government”.
Mr Hancock previously faced questions over claims he "secretly" appointed Mrs Coladangelo as an unpaid adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care on a six-month contract in March last year.
The Health Secretary appointed her as a non-executive director at the department in September, meaning she is a member of the board.
The Mirror understands Mrs Coladangelo is paid £15,000 a year in that role, in which she sits on the department’s board alongside top experts including Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.
Because she was only appointed in the last year, her pay has not yet been published in annual accounts, but non-executive board members have previously received around £15,000 a year in fees and it’s understood she is in the same situation.
A Department of Health spokesperson had said the appointment was “made in the usual way and followed correct procedure”.
Claims of 'chumocracy' emerged in November when it was revealed Mrs Coladangelo was attending confidential meetings.
She has been spotted leaving No10 with the Health Secretary on a number of occasions.
A source told the Sunday Times last year: "Before Matt does anything big, he'll speak to Gina. She knows everything."
Another added: “She has access to lots of confidential information.”