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Hancock ‘acted properly’ over shares in company that won NHS contracts

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Labour claimed the Health Secretary’s 15 percent stake in the company where his sister is a director was a sign of “cronyism at the heart of this Government”. But a Downing Street spokesman insisted the Cabinet minister “acted entirely properly” in the matter. The Prime Minister had “full confidence” in Mr Hancock, the spokesman added. Labour said there were “serious questions to answer” about his shares in Topwood Ltd, which specialises in secure storage, shredding and the scanning of documents. The Health Service Jour-nal said the firm, in which Mt Hancock’s sister has a larger portion of shares, won contracts to give services to the NHS in England and Wales.

It also reported that the Health Secretary did not declare his connection to the company in the relevant register of interests.

The Downing Street spokesman said: “Ministers have no involvement in the awarding of these contracts and no conflict of interest arises.

“Matt Hancock discussed with the Permanent Secretary that he would be gifted these shares before accepting them. The Permanent Secretary was confident there weren’t any conflicts.”

Asked if the Prime Minister had “full confidence” in Mr Hancock, the spokesman replied: “Yes.”

The latest row about connections between the Government and businesses erupted as another probe was launched into the collapsed finance firm that employed David Cameron as an adviser.

The former PM went to Saudi Arabia with Lex Greensill, founder of Greensill Capital, to meet Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is suspected of being involved in journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

The UK’s National Audit Office is to investigate Greensill Capital’s involvement in the Government’s coronavirus support schemes.

Meanwhile, a former civil service chief said he was “baffled” as to how a former head of government procurement was able to take a job as an adviser with Greensill Capital while working in Whitehall. Lord Kerslake said he had “real concerns” about the case of Bill Crothers.

“I can see no circumstances in which his appointment was acceptable,” said Lord Kerslake, a cross-bench peer who was head of the civil service under Mr Cameron. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “He led on procurement, an area of absolutely intense scrutiny and where integrity is vital.

“The situation was that Greensill were active in government even if they didn’t have a contract. So I am baffled as to how this got approved.”

The row deepened yesterday when it was revealed that Mr Greensill was announced as a Crown Representative with influence over government contracts by Mr Crothers, who was later employed at the firm.

Mr Crothers praised Mr Greensill, who joined the Crown Representatives programme that recruits private sector experts to help the Government strike better deals with suppliers.

Labour MP Dame Angela Eagle said it looked like “a revolving door in plain sight” as she tabled questions.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “Crown Representatives all go through regular propriety checks.”

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