A government minister is under investigation over a complaint he sponsored a parliamentary pass for the aide that disgraced ex-health secretary Matt Hancock was filmed kissing.
Lord Bethell is the subject of an inquiry by the House of Lords’ watchdog over “use of facilities” in relation to Gina Coladangelo.
Both Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo quit the Department for Health and Social Care last month after they were filmed embracing on CCTV in a breach of COVID restrictions.
Like Ms Coladangelo, Lord Bethell was appointed to the Department of Health and Social Care under Mr Hancock.
Concerns had been raised about Lord Bethell’s sponsorship of Ms Coladangelo’s parliamentary pass amid questions about what work she actually did for him.
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.
Lord Bethell’s parliamentary webpage currently lists no staff, although an archive of the page shows Mrs Gina Tress, a marketing and communications director for Oliver Bonas, was previously listed among his staff members.
Ms Coladangelo is married to Oliver Tress, the founder and head of retail chain Oliver Bonas.
Confirming the Conservative peer was now under investigation over the matter, a House of Lords spokesman said: “The Commissioner for Standards is investigating a complaint regarding Lord Bethell sponsoring a pass for Gina Coladangelo.”
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Holders of a parliamentary pass 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.
Lord Bethell told peers last month that he had written to the Commissioner for Standards about a complaint by Labour’s Anneliese Dodds.
“During the work of the pandemic, many people – officials, ministers and those in industry – worked extremely hard to address the severe epidemic that we face, and I am extremely proud of how that business was conducted,” he told the House of Lords.
Labour have repeatedly called for Lord Bethell to be sacked, including over his use of a private email address for government business during the COVID crisis.
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