Former health secretary Matt Hancock made a high-profile return to the headlines with his recent stint on reality TV show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
The Tory MP said taking part in the programme was a chance for people to see his human side.
But Mr Hancock wasn’t the only one to garner attention as a result of the jungle trip, as his girlfriend Gina Coladangelo flew out to meet him when the programme finished last month.
The communications professional greeted Mr Hancock on the iconic rope bridge in Australia when he was ejected from the jungle in third place, having - to the surprise of many - reached the final.
Ms Coladangelo said Mr Hancock “underestimated” the scale of the reaction to his appearance on the show, which sparked anger among his constituents and colleagues in parliament.
“I think it’s fair to say that Matt underestimated the scale of the reaction to him coming into the jungle,” she told the ITV’s Coming Out show. “He’s made of tough stuff, this summer we trekked around Mont Blanc together in 4 days.”
“My last words to him were ‘Just be yourself, be the Matt I know and it’ll go really well’”.
But how much do we know about the multimillionaire, who forged a successful career in business before she hit the headlines by striking up a relationship with the West Suffolk MP?
The pair’s extra-marital affair was very publicly exposed in June last year when The Sun published a CCTV image showing them kissing inside a government building during the Covid pandemic.
At the time, Ms Coladangelo was working at the health department as a non-executive director. Mr Hancock accepted that the passionate embrace was in breach of his own social distancing guidelines and he subsequently resigned. Ms Coladangelo also left her role.
While Ms Coladangelo worked with Mr Hancock at the health department they have been close friends since their university days.
The 43-year-old, who was previously a director at lobbying firm Luther Pendragon, met Mr Hancock at Oxford University where they bonded over their shared passion for radio.
She studied politics, philosophy and economics and reportedly continued to be close friends with Mr Hancock after completing her studies in 1998, the same year as Mr Hancock.
Recounting a tale from their student days in an interview with the BBC in April 2020, Ms Coladangelo revealed that the MP had- on at least one occasion - been economical with the truth.
She said the future health secretary, who covered sport for the student radio station, told a "white lie" after he "overslept" on the day he was supposed to be covering a rugby match.
"He got one of these special tickets to go and sit in the press box... at Twickenham to watch a big match... and actually overslept," Ms Coladangelo said.
"He hot-footed it to the train but didn’t make it back to Twickenham in time from Oxford so had to get off the train at Reading, find a pub, watch the first in the pub and then go to a phone box outside and report in.
"So he told a white lie, pretended he was at Twickenham... when he was in fact at a pub in Reading. Successfully nobody ever found out."
Ms Coladangelo was given the health department job by Mr Hancock in September 2020.
The role, which scrutinises decisions made by the department, netted the public affairs consultant £15,000 of taxpayer money, according to The Sunday Times. There was no public record of the appointment but it was listed on her LinkedIn page.
She was also appointed by Mr Hancock to be an unpaid adviser on a six-month contract in March, leading to accusations of “chumocracy” after she was pictured leaving meetings at No10 with the health secretary.
Ms Coladangelo also reportedly had access to a parliamentary pass since April, giving her unfettered access to the Palace of Westminster.
At one point she had signed a “volunteer’s agreement”, meaning that was bound by the Official Secrets Act, The Sunday Times said.
According to a biography on gov.uk published when she was in the role, Ms Coladangelo “has over 20 years’ experience in communications and marketing, with a particular focus on healthcare, retail and the environment.”
It adds: “Her experience in healthcare communications is wide-ranging, providing strategic counsel and communications support for NHS trusts, healthcare agencies, professional bodies, patient groups and charities.”
She was listed as a governor at BeyondAutism, an education charity, and was previously a trustee at the Willow Charity, which works with seriously ill adults. Ms Coladangelo is married to the founder of Oliver Bonas, Oliver Tress, and they have three children together. They separated after the affair became public.
Mr Hancock is also married with three children but separated from his wife.