The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, holds at least a 15% stake (15 shares) in his own sister's company, who were previously awarded lucrative NHS contracts as recently as March 2021, it can be revealed.
Last month, a firm named Topwood Limited were handed two contracts worth £150,000 each by the NHS to carry out waste disposal services, including the shredding of confidential documents.
However, in the latest Register of Financial Interests, Mr Hancock has declared that he has been handed a 15% stake in the company.
And, as if that wasn't enough of a conflict of interest, the company is literally owned by Mr Hancock's sister.
Yes, according to official Companies House records, the director of Topwood Limited is one Emily Gilruth - who also lists her primary occupation as "equine trainer".
During his maiden speech, soon after becoming Health Secretary, Mr Hancock revealed that he 'loved' the NHS because it saved the life of his sister after a riding accident - saying:
“I love my sister and the NHS saved her life, so when I say I love the NHS, I really mean it. My commitment to the health service and the fundamental principles that underpin it is not just professional, it is deeply personal.”
“It was in the middle of the 2017 general election campaign, so I was not having a very good time. She was cared for by the intensive care unit who kept her alive, and then helped her recover.”
The sister Hancock was talking about is the very same Emily Gilruth who is listed as a director of Topwood Limited.
Furthermore, it is also unclear whether Mr Hancock has underestimated his actual shareholding in the company - with official records appearing to show he holds a 20% stake rather than 15%.
A recent confirmation statement shows that two people have offloaded 10 shares each and now hold zero shares - whilst 40 shares now appear to be held by his sister, 40 shares by a man named Tom Gilruth, and 20 shares now held by the Health Secretary, making Mr Hancock’s share allegedly 20%, not 15%.
At a time when the hashtag “Tory Sleaze” has been thrust right back onto the agenda over the Greensill scandal, the revelation that Mr Hancock may to be financially benefiting from NHS privatisation through a stake in his own sister’s company could hardly have come at a worse time for the Conservative Party.
A government spokesperson said:
“Mr Hancock has acted entirely properly in these circumstances. All declarations of interest have been made in accordance with the Ministerial Code. Ministers have no involvement in the awarding of these contracts, and no conflict of interest arises.”
(Written by Tom D. Rogers, edited by Michael O'Sullivan)