Matt Hancock says he did not ‘primarily’ go on I’m a Celebrity for the money

Ex-health secretary defends appearance on TV show and denies he broke law by embracing aide during lockdown

Matt Hancock has said he did not “primarily” go on I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! for his £320,000 fee, adding that his £10,000 charitable donation was a “decent sum” after his appearance on the reality show.

The former health secretary also repeatedly denied he had broken the law in his embrace with his now girlfriend Gina Coladangelo during Covid restrictions. The Good Morning Britain interviewer Susanna Reid said he had broken the law on gatherings that had to be reasonably necessary for work.

Hancock gave a donation to the St Nicholas hospice in Suffolk and the British Dyslexia Association after his appearance, saying it was “more than my MPs’ salary” over the time he was in the Australian jungle.

He said of the reality show: “I didn’t primarily do it for the money, I primarily did it to try to show who I am … I think £10,000 is actually a decent sum.” He added that his salary was about £7,000 a month. He was still paid for being an MP during his time away on the show.

He conceded there had been “a discussion and negotiation over the fee” and denied that the fee had been increased after he initially refused.

Hancock lost the Conservative whip for appearing on the show and was criticised by the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, for leaving his constituents to appear.

Hancock has also earned £45,000 for taking part in Channel 4’s Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, which has not yet been aired.

The former health secretary said his embrace with his then aide – a photograph of which appeared in the Sun newspaper while he was still married – was not breaking the law but that he resigned because he did break guidelines on social distancing.

But Reid said on 6 May 2021 the law said no person could take part in a gathering of two or more people indoors – apart from what was necessary for work.

“No, it wasn’t a breach of the law. It’s a breach of the guidelines,” Hancock said. Asked if he was arguing that it was a necessary work gathering, he said: “Obviously, I wouldn’t make that argument.”


Jessica Elgot Deputy political editor

The GuardianTramp

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