Matt Hancock with Gina Coladangelo (right) (Image: NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
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Matt Hancock faces fresh questions after No10 confirmed he personally appointed his aide to her £15,000-a-year government job.
The former Health Secretary "directly" appointed Gina Coladangelo last year as a non-executive director at the Department of Health – where she sat on its board alongside Chris Whitty.
He later began an affair with her and they were filmed snogging in his office on May 6.
Friends of Mr Hancock have insisted the affair began in May, but the pair were university friends long before their kiss.
The Ministerial Code states: "Within departments, the Minister should advise their Permanent Secretary of the interest and responsibilities should be arranged to avoid any conflict of interest."
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No10 today declined to confirm whether Mr Hancock declared any kind of relationship with Ms Coladangelo when she was appointed to his department's board. Yet a spokesman said "I don't believe" an investigation into whether Mr Hancock broke the Code is under way.
Boris Johnson's official spokesman said: "Ministers are entitled to make direct appointments when it comes to non-executive directors. Her appointment followed the correct procedure in this regard."
Pushed further to confirm Mr Hancock appointed her, he said: "As far as I'm aware, I believe ministers are entitled to make direct appointments, and I believe that was the case in this instance."
Matt Hancock pictured kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo
(Image: Image: The Sun)
Asked if ministers had "carte blanche" to appoint anyone, he said: "That detail is set out on gov.uk, I don't have that to hand. Obviously non-executive directors are appointed to bring experience from all sectors and provide advice to government departments."
Asked if the "full facts" of her relationship were disclosed as part of her appointment, he replied: "As I said, her appointment followed correct procedure."
Asked if that procedure would involve declaring a relationship he said: "I think the roles require a declaration of interest."
The briefing came after Boris Johnson broke his silence on Matt Hancock's resignation for kissing a senior aide – saying it had undermined public health messaging.
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The PM made the remarks despite giving his full backing to the former Health Secretary on Friday after pictures emerged of him in clinch with aide Gina Coladangelo.
Downing Street repeatedly insisted on Friday that Mr Johnson considered the matter closed and had accepted Mr Hancock's apology.
But Mr Hancock was forced to resign the next day in the face of overwhelming criticism.
He was swiftly replaced by former Chancellor Sajid Javid.
Asked whether Mr Hancock's actions undermined the message about being "all in it together", the PM made a complete u-turn, saying: "That's right, and that's why when I saw the story on Friday we had a new Secretary of State for Health in on Saturday."
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But asked if Mr Johnson had sacked his Health Secretary, the PM's spokesman clarified: "No, the former Health Secretary resigned."
Asked if the PM urged him to resign, the spokesman said: "No, the Prime Minister accepted his resignation, he agreed it was the right decision."
Asked how the matter could be "closed" on Friday and then be the "right decision" for Mr Hancock to quit on Saturday, the spokesman replied: "They discussed it further.
"On the following day the Health Secretary offered his resignation, the Prime Minister agreed it was the right thing to do."