Matt Hancock Broke Ministerial Code Over Shares In Sister’s Firm, Ethics Adviser Says

Health secretary failed to declare stake in Topwood Limited when it was awarded an NHS contract.

Health secretary Matt Hancock broke the ministerial code by failing to declare a significant stake in his sister’s company when it won an NHS framework contract, the government’s ethics adviser has said.

Hancock holds a 20% stake in Topwood Limited, which is owned and run by the health secretary’s older sister Emily Gilruth and brother-in-law.

The firm was awarded a framework contract with NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) in February 2019, when Hancock was health secretary and had a stake in the company.

But he failed to declare an interest in the firm at the time and therefore breached the ministerial code, the independent adviser on ministers’ interests found.

Lord Geidt however said that the failure to declare the interest was “was as a result of [Hancock’s] lack of knowledge [of the contract] and in no way deliberate, and therefore, in technical terms, a minor breach of the ministerial code.”

The adviser went on: “In coming to this finding, I recognise that Hancock has acted with integrity throughout and that this event should in no way impugn his good character or ministerial record.”

But the revelation will only add to the pressure on Hancock following accusations that he wrongly told Dominic Cummings and others in government that people would be tested before being transferred into care homes during the early stages of the Covid pandemic.

Hancock at a Downing Street Covid press conference on Thursday
Hancock at a Downing Street Covid press conference on Thursday
WPA Pool via Getty Images

Lord Geidt’s finding comes after Health Service Journal found Topwood secured a place on the NHS SBS framework for “confidential waste destruction and disposal” in 2019, just months after Hancock became secretary of state.

The framework is effectively a shortlist of providers available to the local NHS.

In March, Topwood also won two NHS Wales contracts worth £150,000 each to carry out waste disposal services, including the shredding of confidential documents.

In his first speech as health secretary, Hancock spoke about how the NHS saved his sister’s life after a horse riding accident and how that informed his love for the NHS.

“I have never had a moment where somebody so close has been at a risk of dying,” he said.

He added: “I love my sister and the NHS saved her life, so when I say I love the NHS, I really mean it. My commitment to the health service and the fundamental principles that underpin it is not just professional, it is deeply personal.”


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