Sunday 22 November 2020 4:10 pm

Matt Hancock hired close friend as Health Department adviser

Health secretary Matt Hancock appointed a close friend, who works as a high profile lobbyist, to a £15,000-a-year government role, it has been revealed.

Hancock failed to declare that he had given university pal Gina Coladangelo, 42, an unpaid paid advisory role and then later appointed her to the board of the Department of Health and Social Care – a paid position.

Read more: Lobbyists given access to confidential government Covid briefings

Coladangelo is a director at lobbying firm Luther Pendragon and also as communications director at fashion company Oliver Bonas.

The pair met while at the University of Oxford and have remained close in the years since.

The Sunday Times revealed Coladangelo’s appointments today, with one source close to Hancock saying that Coldangelo is one of the health secretary’s closest allies.

“Before Matt does anything big, he’ll speak to Gina. She knows everything,” they said.

Another added: “She has access to lots of confidential information.”

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It comes as the government has been rocked by a number of stories recently about a so-called Tory “chumocracy”, with friends of ministers advised to public sector roles.

Last week the Sunday Times revealed that former Sun political editor and influential lobbyist George Pascoe-Watson had been given access to high-level Department of Health Covid briefings.

Pascoe-Watson sent emails to his clients twice detailing changes to government coronavirus restrictions.

Read more: Cronyism and incompetence: The government is undermining trust in the private sector

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has called for an inquiry into how professional lobbyists are allowed to serve as government advisers.

“The public need answers now,” she said.