Jacob Rees-Mogg: Matt Hancock should have declared relationship

‘If a minister appointed his wife as a non-exec you’d hope the Cabinet Office would know’: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s barb at Matt Hancock as he says he SHOULD have declared his relationship with his aide amid calls for appointment rules to change

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested Matt Hancock should have declared relationship
  • Mr Hancock quit Cabinet after CCTV footage showed him in embrace with aide 
  • Gina Coladangelo was appointed non-executive director at health department
  • Ex-civil service boss Lord Kerslake said the appointment rules must change

Jacob Rees-Mogg today suggested that Matt Hancock should have declared his relationship with his aide Gina Coladangelo to the Cabinet Office. 

The Commons Leader highlighted parliamentary rules on appointing family members to roles and said ‘there are likely to be rules around disclosure of personal relationships in other areas too’. 

Speaking broadly, Mr Rees-Mogg said that ‘if a man were to appoint his wife to be a non-executive director you would hope that the Cabinet Office knew that the lady was married to the man’.   

Ms Coladangelo was brought into the Department of Health first as an unpaid adviser before she was then appointed to a non-executive director role in September which came with a £15,000-a-year salary.       

Her appointment as a non-executive director has prompted intense scrutiny with Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, arguing this morning that the appointment rules must be changed and made more transparent. 

Jacob Rees-Mogg today suggested that Matt Hancock should have declared his relationship with his aide Gina Coladangelo to the Cabinet Office

Ms Coladangelo, pictured with Mr Hancock in May this year, was brought into the Department of Health first as an unpaid adviser before she was then appointed to a non-executive director role in September which came with a £15,000-a-year salary

Mr Hancock announced he was stepping down as health secretary on Saturday evening, following the leaking of video footage showing him breaking social distancing rules by kissing Ms Coladangelo in his ministerial office. 

Mr Rees-Mogg was asked whether her appointment as a non-executive director would have been ‘proper’ if the relationship with Mr Hancock had begun before she was appointed.

The Commons Leader told the MoggCast podcast published by Conservative Home: ‘I don’t know about individual appointments and I don’t know about individual relationships and nor would it be right that I should, so it may be easier to talk in generic terms.

‘But in generic terms, a member of Parliament who has an employee with whom he or she then develops a relationship is expected to declare that to IPSA because there are limitations on family members and restrictions on family members you may employ.

‘So in a parliamentary context, IPSA would have had to be informed and there are rules around that and I think there are likely to be rules around disclosure of personal relationships in other areas too.’

Mr Rees-Mogg was then asked if the relationship should have been declared if it was in existence prior to the appointment.  

He said: ‘I am with Queen Elizabeth I, not liking to make windows into men’s souls, therefore for me to start speculating about whether relationships between a couple of individuals existed or not is frankly none of my business.’

But asked to comment in general terms, he said: ‘If we are asking general questions, if a man were to appoint his wife to be a non-executive director you would hope that the Cabinet Office knew that the lady was married to the man.’ 

His comments came as Lord Kerslake said that the way non-executive directors are appointed in Whitehall must change in the wake of the resignation of Mr Hancock.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The problem really with the current model is about really the appointment process, how it is overseen and indeed clarity about what that role is supposed to be and I’m afraid changes are going to be needed in light of this sorry saga.’

Lord Kerslake said that ministers should be able to hire non-executive directors but the process needed to be transparent and regulated.

Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, argued this morning that the non-executive director appointment rules must be changed and made more transparent

He added: ‘I think the Secretary of State should appoint, as they do for permanent secretaries because actually this is their board, they chair it, and they need to have people on there that they think will help them do their role.

‘But the process by which that happens needs to be properly open, fair and transparent, not just the minister waking up one morning and saying “I would like to have X on my board”.’

Downing Street has suggested that Mr Hancock personally hired Ms Coladangelo as a non-executive director at the health department.

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said yesterday: ‘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. Her appointment followed correct procedure.’ 

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