Matt Hancock broke government rules by not consulting Parliament’s anti-corruption watchdog before appearing on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
However, further action against the former health secretary has been deemed ‘disproportionate’.
Mr Hancock’s appearance on the show caused waves of backlash both inside the camp and at home.
Prior to his stint in the jungle, he vowed to use it as an opportunity to raise awareness about dyslexia – which he finally did two days ago.
Lord Pickles, the Conservative chairman of the Advisory Board for Professional Appointments (Acoba) – which advises on post-ministerial jobs – informed Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden of the breach in a letter on Tuesday.
He said he was writing “to bring to your attention a breach of the Government Enterprise Appointment Rules…
“Mr. Hancock didn’t seek Acoba’s advice before signing on to two TV series, I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! and Channel 4’s SAS Who Dares Wins.’
According to the rules, Mr Hancock must seek Acoba’s clearance for any new job or appointment he takes within two years of leaving.
In a letter to Lord Pickles earlier this month, the politician said he did not believe he needed to seek permission from the body for either broadcast ‘because the guidelines state that one-time media appearances like these do not count as a date or a job’.
But, writing to Mr Hancock, Lord Pickles retorted: ‘The rules are clear that an application is required when individuals are planning a range of media activity and it is for Acoba to assess the associated risks.’
“As such, failure to seek and wait for guidance before these roles are announced or assumed in this case is a violation of government rules 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 a potential punishment, Lord Pickles told Mr Dowden: “It’s up to you to decide what appropriate action to take.”
“However, given the transparent nature of Mr Hancock’s role in being limited to appearing on these shows… I think it would be disproportionate to take any further action in this matter.”
A spokesperson for Mr Hancock said: ‘Acoba’s website makes it clear that it does not consider media appearances to be an appointment or employment.’ The advice on the website has been followed in good faith.
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