Matt Hancock broke government rules over I’m A Celebrity appearance, watchdog rules

Charlene White and Matt Hancock on ‘I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!’ (James Gourley/ITV/Shutterstock/iStock)

Matt Hancock broke government rules by not seeking permission before appearing on I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, a watchdog has ruled.

The former health secretary – already stripped of the Tory whip for flying off to earn a reputed £400,000 in the jungle – failed to consult the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA).

Its chair, former Cabinet minister Eric Pickles tore into Mr Hancock for claiming he did not need to seek permission because many weeks on a reality TV show constituted a ‘one-off’ activity,

“Acoba’s guidance on ‘one-off’ activities is not intended to allow individuals to carry out short-term appointments without seeking advice, or to create a loophole to carry out advisory work,” he has written.

“The Rules are clear that an application is required where individuals plan a series of media activities and it is for Acoba to assess the associated risks.

“As such, failing to seek and await advice before these roles were announced or taken up in this case is a breach of the Government’s rules and the requirements set out in the ministerial code.”

However, Lord Pickles advised Oliver Dowden, the Cabinet Office minister, that any further action against Mr Hancock would be “disproportionate”.

The former health secretary is believed to accept that his frontbench career is over and is widely expected to stand down from parliament at the next general election.

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