Matt Hancock's I'm a Celeb appearance breaches Government business appointment rules, watchdog chairman says

Lord Pickles wrote in a letter to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden
Lord Pickles wrote in a letter to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden

Viewers have voted to keep the 44-year-old former health secretary in the jungle, after the third eviction of the 2022 series took place on Monday

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Matt Hancock breached the Government’s business appointment rules by not consulting Acoba before appearing on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, the chairman of the anti-corruption watchdog has said.

Viewers have voted to keep the 44-year-old former health secretary in the jungle, after the third eviction of the 2022 series took place on Monday.

Lord Pickles wrote in a letter to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden: “I am writing to you in my capacity as chair of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) to bring to your attention a breach of the Government’s Business Appointment Rules…

“Mr Hancock did not seek Acoba’s advice before signing up to two television series, ITV’s I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! and Channel 4’s SAS Who Dares Wins.”

Lord Pickles said further action would be “disproportionate” after ruling that Matt Hancock breached Acoba rules by not consulting the body over his reality TV appearance.

Matt Hancock breached the Government’s business appointment rules by not consulting Acoba before appearing on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
Matt Hancock breached the Government’s business appointment rules by not consulting Acoba before appearing on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!

The Conservative chairman of the anti-corruption watchdog, wrote in a letter to to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden: “It is a matter for you to decide what appropriate action to take.

“However, given the transparent nature of Mr Hancock’s role which is limited to appearing on these shows (not dealing with the commercial aspects of Channel 4 or ITV business) I believe it would be disproportionate to take any further action in this case.”

Slamming Matt Hancock’s claims that his failure to consult Acoba before appearing on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! did not breach government rules, he said: “You said you consulted Acoba’s website and its guidance on ‘one-off’ activities such as speeches, broadcasts, or newspaper articles.

"From that you understood you were not required `…to write to Acoba to ask permission for either SAS: Who Dares Wins or I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, as the guidelines state that one-off media appearances such as these do not count as an appointment or employment…

“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.

“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.”