Labour have been comparing the wage for a government director to an NHS nurse (Image: PA)

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Labour are demanding an end to “crony” government board members as party analysis claims they earn up to 14 times more than nurses.

Matt Hancock directly appointed uni friend Gina Coladangelo, who later became his lover, as a £15,000-a-year non-executive director on the board of the Department of Health.

Ms Coladangelo has now left that role after her kiss with Mr Hancock was caught on camera.

But Labour have claimed the scandal could be the tip of the iceberg – and raised questions about the 84 ’NEDs’ employed across government.

A job advert shows NEDs are expected to work for a “minimum” of 15 to 20 days per year, yet are paid £15,000 – or £20,000 for a ‘lead’ NED.

Labour suggested that could be as much as £178 an hour – 14 times more than a nurse’s starting salary of £12.77.

Matt Hancock with Gina Coladangelo, who was one example of a NED
(Image: Zuma Press / eyevine)

Downing Street yesterday insisted Mr Hancock was “entitled to make direct appointments”, and the appointment of Ms Coladangelo “followed the correct procedure in this regard."

But the Institute for Government has warned the process of appointing NEDs is “somewhat opaque”.

And Labour pointed out others who hold NED roles have political links to ministers.

Simone Finn, a Conservative peer, was a non-executive board member at the Cabinet Office until February 28, donating her salary to charity.

Former Labour MP Gisela Stuart, who chaired Vote Leave and campaigned alongside now-Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, also sits on the Cabinet Office board.

Theresa May ’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy is a NED at the Department for Education while former UKIP and Tory MP Douglas Cardwell is on the board of the Department for International Trade.

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A Cabinet Office spokesman said: ”Simone Finn and Gisela Stuart were both appointed following a fair and open competition as set out in the Code of Governance, with the roles being publicly advertised."

But Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: "Non-executive directors of Whitehall departments are supposed to hold ministers to account, not serve as nodding dogs for their mates who appointed them, while pocketing £1,000 a day from the taxpayer for a few meetings a year.

“Whether it is crony contracts or cushy jobs, Tory ministers are using every opportunity they can to funnel taxpayers’ money to their mates and avoid any form of scrutiny and accountability.”

No10 said yesterday that “non-executive directors are appointed to bring experience from all sectors and provide advice to government departments."

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: ”As has been the case under successive governments, Non Executive Board members bring important expertise and experience from all sectors to provide advice, scrutiny and challenge to government departments.

"There are robust policies in place for the governance of departmental boards, as set out in the Code of Governance and code of conduct for non executive directors."