08 October 2021

Ex-health minister cleared of wrongdoing over Hancock aide pass

08 October 2021

A former health minister has been cleared of wrongdoing after sponsoring a parliamentary pass for the aide Matt Hancock was caught kissing on leaked CCTV footage.

Lord Bethell who was sacked as a health minister during September’s reshuffle, had sponsored a pass for Gina Coladangelo between March and December 2020 using her married name, Gina Tress, giving her free access to Parliament.

Following the revelation that the peer had sponsored Ms Coladangelo’s pass in June 2021 and claims that she had played “no role” in his team, Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds asked the Lords Commissioner for Standards to investigate.

On Friday, the Commissioner cleared the ex-minister, finding Ms Coladangelo “did work for Lord Bethell during the period of March to December 2020 and that the work she undertook for him properly falls into the category of research or secretarial support”.

House of Lords rules state that peers can sponsor passes for secretaries and research assistants but only if they “genuinely and personally” fulfil those roles for the sponsoring member.

House of Lords rules state that peers can sponsor passes for secretaries and research assistants but only if they ‘genuinely and personally’ fulfil those roles (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Lord Bethell said he was “pleased” with the outcome of the investigation, which he described as “very thorough”.

He added: “I thought the whole complaint was a time-wasting exercise and I’m very sorry that Anneliese Dodds made the complaint.”

According to a report published by the Commissioner, Lord Bethell told the investigation that Ms Coladangelo had begun to work for him “on an informal, unpaid basis” in the autumn of 2019, saying she “assisted him with his social media, speaking style and personal presentation” and that she was “one of the most qualified people in the country”.

Both Lord Bethell and Ms Coladangelo told the Commissioner that nobody had asked the peer to sponsor her pass and that it had made it easier for her to meet him as he became busier in the House of Lords during the pandemic.

Ms Coladangelo said she had used her pass “five or six times between March and December 2020”.

In March 2020, Ms Coladangelo had also been appointed as a non-executive director of the Department for Health and Social Care, working alongside then-health secretary Mr Hancock.

Both she and Mr Hancock resigned from their roles in June 2021 after CCTV footage showing them kissing was leaked to the Sun newspaper.

Although no longer a health minister, Lord Bethell remains under investigation by the Information Commissioner for his alleged use of personal emails to conduct government business.

The peer denies the allegations.

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