Much Ado About Potential Or Perceived Corruption?

The government has defended Matt Hancock from allegations that he broke the ministerial code by not declaring his family’s shares in a company that won contracts from NHS Wales.

The Health Secretary owns more than 15 per cent of Topwood Ltd, a Wrexham-based firm that specialises in scanning and shredding documents. Shareholding 20 ORDINARY shares held as at the date of this confirmation statement Name: M HANCOCK.

Labour said he had potentially broken the ministerial code because NHS Wales had awarded Topwood contracts worth £300,000 this year.

Topwood became a potential supplier to NHS England after it was placed on the Shared Business Services framework in 2019, a year after Hancock became health secretary, according to the Health Service Journal. Hancock is not responsible for the running of NHS Wales since health is a devolved matter but he is responsible for NHS England.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said there was “no conflict of interest”, adding that the health secretary had no involvement in the awarding of any contracts. He added that Hancock had consulted the most senior civil servant in the Department of Health and Social Care before accepting the shares, which were a gift.

 According to the ministerial code, ministers must “scrupulously avoid” any actual or perceived conflict of interest. They must also declare the interests of close family members if they could lead to a conflict of interest.

In the latest register of MPs’ interests, Hancock declared that he owned more than 15 per cent of Topwood’s shares. Emily Gilruth, his sister, is a director of the company.

It’s in the nature of the public to perceive corruption among politicians, and the public are invariably right about these perceptions?

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