Anti-corruption watchdog attacked Matt Hancock over ‘I’m A Celeb’

Matt Hancock on I'm a Celebrity.

Matt Hancock is in more hot water about his newfound television career (Image: ITV/Shutterstock)

Matt Hancock broke government rules by failing to consult Parliament’s Anti-Corruption Inspectorate before appearing in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

However, further action against the former health minister was deemed “disproportionate”.

Mr Hancock’s participation in the show has prompted waves of backlash both within camp and at home.

Before his stay in the jungle, he had vowed to use the opportunity to draw attention to dyslexia – which he finally did two days ago.

Lord Pickles, the Conservative chairman of the Advisory Committee on Corporate Appointments (Acoba), which advises on post-ministerial posts, informed Cabinet Secretary Oliver Dowden of the breach in a letter on Tuesday.

He said he was writing “to alert you to a violation of the government’s business employment rules…

“Mr Hancock didn’t ask Acoba for advice before he signed on for two television series, ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and Channel 4’s SAS Who Dares Wins.’

Under the Rules, Mr. Hancock should seek approval from Acoba for any new employment or appointment he accepts within two years of leaving office.

STRICT EMBARGO - NOT FOR USE BEFORE 22:15 GMT, 11 November 2022 - EDITORIAL USE ONLY Mandatory Credit: Photo by James Gourley/ITV/Shutterstock (13619501at) Bushtucker Trial - La Cucaracha Cafe: Matt Hancock'I'm a celebrity .. . Get me out of here!' TV Show, Series 22, Australia – November 11, 2022

Matt Hancock was unable to seek advice (Image: James Gourley/ITV/Shutterstock)

In a letter to Lord Pickles earlier this month, the politician had claimed he didn’t think he needed to seek the panel’s permission for either show, ‘as guidelines state that one-off media appearances like this do not count as appointment or employment’ .

But in a letter to Mr Hancock, Lord Pickles retorted: “The rules are clear that where individuals plan a range of media activities an application is required and it is for Acoba to assess the risks involved.

“Failure to seek advice and await prior announcement or acceptance of these roles in this case is a breach of Government regulations and the requirements set out in the Ministerial Code.”

Any disciplinary action would be decided by the Cabinet Office but Lord Pickles said he believed further action would be “disproportionate”.

On possible punishment, Lord Pickles told Mr Dowden: “It is for you to decide what reasonable action to take.

“However, given Mr Hancock’s transparent role, which is limited to appearing on these shows, … I feel it is disproportionate to take further action in this case.”

A spokesman for Mr Hancock said: “The Acoba website clearly states that it does not consider media appearances as an appointment or employment. The advice on the website has been followed in good faith.”

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Justin Scacco

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