Lord Bethell under investigation over pass for aide Hancock was caught kissing

·2-min read

Health minister Lord Bethell is formally under investigation over a complaint that he sponsored a parliamentary pass for the aide Matt Hancock was caught kissing on leaked CCTV.

The Lords Commissioner for Standards confirmed on Tuesday that the Tory peer was being investigated over his “use of facilities” in relation to Gina Coladangelo.

Mr Hancock’s embrace with the former adviser ultimately cost him his Government job after it was revealed the pair breached coronavirus guidance.

The long-term friend of Mr Hancock was brought into the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) first as an unpaid adviser before getting the £15,000-a-year director role in September.

Members of the House of Lords can sponsor passes for secretaries and research assistants if they “genuinely and personally” fulfil those roles for the sponsoring member.

The sponsor has to sign a declaration to that effect, and it would be against the rules if the individual did not work for the peer.

A House of Lords spokesman said: “The Commissioner for Standards is investigating a complaint regarding Lord Bethell sponsoring a pass for Gina Coladangelo.”

Passholders have free access to the Palace of Westminster, where they can mingle with ministers and MPs and use the estate’s facilities such as bars and restaurants.

Ms Coladangelo is no longer listed as a member of staff for Lord Bethell on his parliamentary web page.

Gina Coladangelo
Gina Coladangelo (Yui Mok/PA)

But an online archive showed she was listed as a staff member in May last year as “Mrs Gina Tress”, a marketing and communications director for Oliver Bonas, the retailer founded by her husband, Oliver Tress.

The Sunday Times reported that Lord Bethell sponsored her pass from April 2020 until at least October.

Lord Bethell told peers last month that he had written to the standards watchdog following a complaint about him sponsoring a parliamentary security pass for Ms Coladangelo.

He has also faced calls to resign over use of a personal email account rather than official communication channels.

Downing Street acknowledged the peer used a private email address but suggested that was allowed within the rules, while the peer insisted he had done nothing wrong.

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