Hancock a shareholder in family document digitisation firm that won NHS deals

Written by Beckie Smith on 19 April 2021 in News
News

DHSC says health secretary ‘acted entirely properly’

Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

Health secretary Matt Hancock has shares in his sister’s document digitisation and destruction company that has won multiple NHS contracts, it has emerged.

Hancock has at least a 15% share in Topwood Limited, of which his sister Emily Gilruth is a director and part owner, according to the latest register of MPs’ interests.

NHS Wales awarded the company two contracts last month, each worth £150,000, according to recently-published documents first identified by Guido Fawkes.

The company, which specialises in the disposal and digitisation of paper documents, was contracted to provide a “confidential waste destruction service” to the Betsi Cadwaladr health board.


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Hancock does not have responsibility for NHS Wales and there is no suggestion that he was involved in the awarding of the contract.

He registered a “gift” of 15% of Topwood’s issued share capital under “a delegated management arrangement” last month.

Health Service Journal has meanwhile reported that Topwood was awarded a place on an NHS Shared Business Services framework to provide “confidential waste destruction and disposal” services in 2019.

Hancock did not own shares in the company at the time, and there is no suggestion that he was involved in awarding the contract.

However, he did not declare an interest in the company, which at the time was owned by his mother and sister and two other people.

The ministerial code states that ministers have a “personal responsibility… to decide whether and what action is needed to avoid a conflict or the perception of a conflict”.

A DHSC 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.”

The revelation comes amid ongoing scrutiny of ministers' and officials' relationships to private companies, following concerns that Greensill Capital may have been granted improper access to government and that ex-prime minister David Cameron had lobbied cabinet ministers for the firm.

 

About the author

Beckie Smith is acting deputy editor of PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World, where a version of this story first appeared. She tweets as @Beckie__Smith.

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