Matt Hancock under investigation by Commons watchdog for lobbying

Matt Hancock slammed by Robinson for ‘poor judgement’

Matt Hancock is being investigated by Parliament’s standards watchdog. He has been placed under investigation for allegedly “lobbying the Commissioner in a manner calculated or intended to influence his consideration of whether a breach of the Code of Conduct has occurred.” Two other MPs, Scott Benton and Henry Smith, have also been placed under investigation.

The offence Mr Hancock is being investigated for is a new offence that was recently added to the Code of Conduct and endorsed by MPs in December 2022.

Mr Benton, who previously had the Conservative whip removed, is being investigated for use of his parliamentary email.

Mr Hancock is being looked into over allegations he broke the MPs’ code of conduct by “lobbying the commissioner in a manner calculated or intended to influence his consideration” of whether a separate breach had been committed.

The latest investigation into Mr Benton comes one week after he was caught offering to lobby ministers and get early access to a sensitive Government report for up to £4,000 a month.

Mr Hancock was kicked out of the Conservative parliamentary party after he revealed he was taking part in a reality TV show and it is not yet clear if he will get the whip back.

The MP for West Suffolk finished third in the show after being voted to take part in a raft of bushtucker trials.

He claimed that raising awareness of dyslexia was one of the main reasons he entered the jungle, as well as to show the human side of politicians.

At the end of last year, he announced that he will stand down as an MP at the next election.

While the MP claimed the chief whip “made clear he would restore the whip in due course”, Mr Hancock said that would no longer be “necessary”.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak, Mr Hancock said: “I am writing to tell you that I do not intend to stand for the Conservatives at the next General Election.”

The MP continued: “It has been a huge honour to serve as Member of Parliament for West Suffolk over the past twelve years.

“I am very proud of what we achieved, including the establishment of three Free Schools, dualling of the A11, supporting the horseracing industry, and expanding Newmarket Hospital.

“I will of course continue to represent all my constituents between now and the next election.

“I am incredibly proud of what we achieved in my nine years in Government: the massive expansion of Apprenticeships, the introduction of Traineeships, support for small and growing businesses, the digitisation of public services and starting to establish rules for the digital economy, restoring the nation’s finances, support for the NHS with record numbers of doctors and nurses, and of course the response to the pandemic: the first vaccine in the world, and a shorter lockdown, fewer jobs lost, and lower mortality than comparable countries.”

He called on the Conservative party to “reconnect with the public”, adding: “There was a time when I thought the only way to influence the public debate was in Parliament, but I’ve realised there’s far more to it than that.

“I have increasingly come to believe that for a healthy democracy, we must find new ways to reach people – especially those who are disengaged with politics. The revival of modern conservatism over the next decade will I suspect take place as much outside Parliament as in it.”

Mr Hancock said he now wants to “do things differently”, saying he has “discovered a whole new world of possibilities which I am excited to explore”.

He said he would continue “championing the issues that are dear to my heart, including better support for dyslexic children who get a raw deal from the education system.”

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