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Angela Rayner queries why Matt Hancock was not asked to resign after 'minor' rule breach
31 May 2021, 13:41
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has written to the independent adviser on ministerial standards to query why he did not recommend the Health Secretary resign after his "minor" breach of the ministerial code.
Lord Geidt concluded that Matt Hancock was guilty of a "technical" breach of the rules after failing to declare his sister's company, which he holds shares in, had become an approved contractor for the NHS.
Ms Rayner tweeted on Monday: "I've written to the independent adviser Lord Geidt again to ask about his conclusion that while the Health Secretary broke the ministerial code, he should not resign.
"This sets a concerning precedent that the rules don't apply equally, or indeed they don't apply at all.
"I have asked Lord Geidt whether he agrees that this precedent of a Cabinet minister being found by an independent investigation to have broken the ministerial code and then not resigning sends a very clear message that the rules don't apply to Cabinet ministers, with this case therefore damaging public trust in our politics, fundamentally weakening the ministerial code system and giving carte blanche to other ministers to break the ministerial code safe in the knowledge that they will not face sanctions."
The senior Opposition figure said it was "simply not believable or reasonable" that Mr Hancock "didn't know about this conflict of interest".
The Prime Minister, who makes the final decision on breaches of the rules, said no further action was required in the case.
But the conclusion is likely to pile further pressure on the Health Secretary, who was accused this week of lying and failing to protect care homes at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic by former No 10 aide Dominic Cummings.
Traditionally, a breach of the code has led to the resignation of ministers, although Home Secretary Priti Patel kept her job earlier this year after being found to have engaged in bullying behaviour towards staff by Lord Geidt's predecessor, Sir Alex Allan.
Sir Alex resigned after Mr Johnson chose to back Ms Patel following his investigation into her conduct.