Matt Hancock under investigation for lobbying sleaze watchdog
Matt Hancock has been placed under investigation by parliament’s standards commissioner – for allegedly “lobbying” the sleaze watchdog to influence its findings.
The parliamentary commissioner for standards confirmed on Wednesday afternoon it was looking into the former health secretary’s conduct for “lobbying the commissioner in a manner calculated or intended to influence his consideration of whether a breach of the code of conduct has occurred”.
The Commissioner in November revealed they had received “dozens” of complaints about Mr Hancock after his appearance on the television reality show I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! – though it is not clear whether the probe relates to this.
A spokesperson for Matt Hancock said the alleged lobbying was a “misunderstanding” and that he had only tried to provide evidence to the commissioner to help their investigation.
“Mr Hancock is shocked and surprised by the investigation. Far from lobbying the commissioner, Matt wrote to Mr Greenberg in good faith to offer some additional evidence that he thought was not only pertinent but helpful for an inquiry the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is currently conducting,” the spokesperson said.
“It’s clearly a misunderstanding and Matt looks forward to fully engaging with the Commissioner to clear this up.”
The spokesperson would not be drawn on what claims the commissioner had been investigating when the alleged lobbying took place.
The current parliamentary standards commission is Daniel Greenberg. He has been in post since January 2023, when he replaced Kathryn Stone, who had held the role since 2018.
Ms Stone said in November that Mr Hancock’s decision to join the reality show “raises really important questions about members’ proper activities while they’re supposed to be fulfilling their parliamentary duties and representing their constituents”.
She told the Commons Standards Committee: “One member of the public contrasted the dignity of veterans on Remembrance Sunday with a former secretary of state and they said this individual was waiting for a buffet of animal genitalia and they wondered what had happened to the dignity of public office.”
Mr Hancock faced widespread criticism last year for his decision to fly out to compete on the popular ITV show.