Minister ‘wouldn’t pay Matt Hancock £10,000 a day’ after MP caught in fake company sting

Led By Donkeys interviews ‘unedifying’, says Tory as Kwasi Kwarteng and Matt Hancock among those duped

Liam James
Monday 27 March 2023 11:45 BST
'I wouldn't pay' Matt Hancock £10,000 a day, says minister

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Louise Thomas

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Matt Hancock is not worth £10,000 a day, according to a minister and Tory colleague of the former health secretary.

Chris Philp, policing minister, said the sight of Mr Hancock and other senior Conservatives offering to advise a fake Korean company for enormous daily sums was “pretty unedifying”.

He was speaking as new footage was released of Sir Graham Brady, chair of the influential 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, telling an activist posing as an employee of Hanseong Consulting that he would work for around £500 an hour.

Matt Hancock asked for a £10,000 a day rate
Matt Hancock asked for a £10,000 a day rate (Led By Donkeys)

Unlike Mr Hancock and former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, who both asked for a £10,000 day rate, Sir Graham suggested an annual £60,000 salary. He later said £500 an hour “or something like that” felt about right.

In his interview with the phoney firm, footage of which was released on Sunday, Mr Kwarteng offered access to former prime minister Boris Johnson. The full interview with Mr Hancock was yet to be published.

The sting, staged by campaign group Led By Donkeys, has not led to any accusation of wrongdoing. MPs are permitted to seek employment outside of Parliament as long as they abide by transparency and lobbying rules.

Sir Graham’s interview saw him attempting to take on a fourth job. Alongside his role as an MP he earns £48,000 a year as a marketing and communications adviser to two UK-based firms.

He also boasted that his seniority in the Tory party meant he could get away with skipping work in the Commons to travel for international meetings.

Certain “emergency occasions” if “something dramatic was happening in British politics” might keep him in London, he said.

“But in a normal course of events, yes, I would be able to plan those things and make sure that I could be free to attend,” he added.

“I have a, I suppose, a degree of seniority within my party, which means that I’m given a little bit of flexibility that perhaps not all of my colleagues would have. So, yes. So I don’t think that would be a problem at all.”

In a statement, Sir Graham said: “Having decided to leave the Commons at the next election, I have received a number of approaches regarding future opportunities.

“I did have an exploratory discussion with someone purporting to be recruiting an international advisory board for a South Korean investment house.

“I made it clear that any arrangement would have to be completely transparent and that whilst a Member of Parliament, I would only act within the terms of the Code of Conduct.

“I also made it clear that whilst I could be flexible in attending international meetings in person, this would be subject to some important votes and commitments at Westminster.”

A spokesman for Mr Hancock said the West Suffolk MP had “acted entirely properly and within the rules” in the interview. Mr Kwarteng has been approached for comment by The Independent.

Mr Philp said neither of the former ministers caught up in the sting had broken any rules but acknowledged that it had not looked good.

Kwasi Kwarteng said he could introduce fake employers with Boris Johnson
Kwasi Kwarteng said he could introduce fake employers with Boris Johnson (Led By Donkeys)

“It was a pretty unedifying spectacle, that is certainly true,” he told Sky News. “It is very important that we have transparency over these things. Had that thing we saw been real, then any agreement they would have entered into would have been completely disclosed to the public.”

Asked if Mr Hancock was worth £10,000-a-day, he replied: “I wouldn’t pay him £10,000.”

Led By Donkeys approached 20 MPs from across the political divide about serving on the non-existent international advisory board for Hanseong Capital.

Five of those were said to have progressed to an online interview stage, including former defence secretary Sir Gavin Williamson and former minister Stephen Hammond.

Labour has called for those Tory MPs caught up in the hoax to be stripped of the whip by Mr Sunak.

Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell said she was “pretty appalled and sickened” by the revelations, with Labour pledging to ban MPs having second jobs.

She said MPs should be “fully focused” on helping constituents rather than “pursuing other commercial ends”.

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