Matt Hancock broke government rules on post-ministerial jobs by not consulting the anti-corruption watchdog before joining I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!
Acoba watchdog boss Lord Pickles said the former health secretary broke the rule that ex-ministers must consult the watchdog on jobs they accept within two years of leaving office by appearing on the ITV reality show, but he said taking action against the MP would be disproportionate.
Hancock had argued he did not need to get clearance for the TV show. In a letter to Pickles, he had argued "one-off media appearances such as these do not count as an appointment or employment".
But Pickles replied: "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."
It is the latest way Hancock's appearance on the show has caused controversy. He has lost the Tory whip for going on it, stoked the anger of bereaved families and people have complained to Ofcom about him.
He is still in the show, and last night performed karaoke to fellow campmates - perhaps his greatest misdemeanor yet.
Writing to Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden to inform him of the breach, Pickles added: "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... I believe it would be disproportionate to take any further action in this case."
He said media and broadcast appointments were at the "low risk end of the spectrum" and suggested the government may want to simplify the process to "allow the system to focus on more complicated roles which overlap with an applicant's responsibility in government service".
A spokesperson for Hancock told indy100: "The ACOBA website clearly states that it does not regard media appearances as an appointment or employment. The guidance on the website was followed in good faith."
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