Anyone who heard Gina Coladangelo waxing lyrical about Matt Hancock on the radio in April last year can have had no illusions about just how warmly she felt towards the Health Secretary.
The pair had been friends since their days at Oxford University, she told the BBC Radio 4 Profile programme shortly after the start of the pandemic when his reputation was already on the line.
Introduced as a ‘close friend for more than 20 years’, she launched into a full-blooded defence of the man she called ‘determined’.
‘He likes setting himself difficult goals and meeting them’, she gushed, a month after she is said to have been hired to give Hancock advice on his public image.
Did one of these ‘goals’ involve winning the heart of the 43-year-old married mother-of-three?
Anyone who heard Gina Coladangelo waxing lyrical about Matt Hancock on the radio in April last year can have had no illusions about just how warmly she felt towards the Health Secretary. Pictured: The pair together in September 2019
Photographs which emerged this week of married Hancock and Coladangelo in a passionate clinch inside the Department of Health certainly seem to suggest so.
The Mail understands that Whitehall’s Propriety and Ethics team are examining whether Hancock’s conduct has breached the Ministerial Code.
They will no doubt be interested in Coladangelo’s roles as a former director and current shareholder of lobbying firm Luther Pendragon, which has worked with the NHS.
‘It offers clients a ‘deep understanding of the mechanics of government’.
Yesterday he deleted a post from his Instagram page in which he bragged about working ‘alongside some brilliant women’ (far right).
Hancock and Coladangelo’s relationship is said to have been an open secret at the Department of Health, where a source who spoke to the Mail yesterday described the glamorous half-Italian brunette as Hancock’s ‘style guru’.
The pair had been friends since their days at Oxford University, she told the BBC Radio 4 Profile programme shortly after the start of the pandemic when his reputation was already on the line
Almost constantly by his side as he battled a barrage of hostile interviews about his performance as Health Secretary, she is said to have been giving him advice on how to present himself better.
‘It’s not normal,’ the source told the Mail, ‘but I think he needed the support during the pandemic.’
Their working relationship is said to stretch back to 2019 when Coladangelo was first hired by Hancock during his futile run for the Tory leadership.
She was then ‘quietly’ hired in March last year on an initially unpaid six-month contract as the UK was plunged into lockdown.
In September 2020, she was made a non-executive director at the Department of Health and can claim up to £15,000 of taxpayers’ money in the role which involves advising ministers and the department on strategic issues.
Ms Coladangelo is married to dashing 54-year-old multi-millionaire entrepreneur Oliver Tress, who went to Kate Middleton’s school Marlborough College and founded the High Street fashion and lifestyle chain Oliver Bonas
Mr Hancock’s wife Martha leaves her home in north-west London on Friday
Her role only became public when it was revealed in a newspaper in November last year.
A profile was added to the government website, making clear her background in the healthcare sector.
Coladangelo used to be a senior account manager at health PR firm Munro & Forster.
Her 70-year-old Italian father, Rino, is chief executive of a specialist pharmaceutical consultancy based in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, while her brother, Roberto, is director of a private home-care business.
She is married to dashing 54-year-old multi-millionaire entrepreneur Oliver Tress, who went to Kate Middleton’s school Marlborough College and founded the High Street fashion and lifestyle chain Oliver Bonas.
The marriage, thought to have taken place in 2009, is not her first. She was previously married to London property lawyer Glynn Gibb.
Mr Hancock’s social media post urging women who want to get involved in politics to ‘swipe up’
From the outside, the couple and their son and two daughters appeared to have an idyllic family life.
Both highly successful professionals, the couple set up home in an enclave of South-West London highly popular with wealthy families and live in a £4million, six-bedroom Edwardian home.
They also rent a beachside property in the Sussex village of West Wittering.
In an interview with this newspaper in 2012, Coladangelo told how she employed a live-in nanny and worked flexible hours to spend time with her children.
Under a headline she may now regret, ‘Can a woman be too clever to be a stay-at-home mum?’, she told readers she did not feel guilty about continuing to work.
This is the image that has left Matt Hancock fighting for his job. It appears to show him kissing his millionaire aide – who is on the public payroll – in the corridor outside his office in May this year
‘Every woman has to make her own choice,’ she said. ‘But I feel very fortunate in my education and believe those years shouldn’t be wasted.’
Tress was badly beaten during the London riots of 2011 and required hospital treatment for head injuries after confronting looters near one of his stores.
He and his wife have made a handsome pair at society events.
They were guests of honour at the launch of fashion designer Tabitha Webb’s store in Belgravia in 2014 where attendees, including Pippa Middleton, were given goodie bags with Oliver Bonas products.
And in June 2017, Coladangelo and Tress — who dated Cressida Bonas’s cousin Anna at university and mingled their names when they launched the business — held a summer party at Fulham Palace to celebrate her 40th birthday and his 50th.
But, as Coladangelo made clear on BBC Radio 4 last year, her friendship with Hancock had run deep since their days at Oxford where she studied economics while Hancock read politics, philosophy and economics.
She displayed an intimate knowledge of Hancock’s family life: ‘His parents separated when he was very young but they both happily remarried and his mother in particular was a very strong influence on him.’
They met after volunteering as presenters at the university radio station Oxygen FM, which launched in 1997.
Hancock read the sport while Coladangelo delivered the news, with her joking last year that he ‘wasn’t good enough’ to do her job.
But even as a student, it seems, Hancock was blundering in — and out of — hot water.
Speaking last year, Coladangelo recalled how he had told a ‘white lie’ to avoid being ‘found out’ when he filed a bogus report claiming to be at a rugby match when in fact he was in a pub 35 miles away.
‘He got a special ticket to go and sit in the Press box at Twickenham to watch Australia versus England,’ she said.
‘Matt overslept and hot-footed it to the train but didn’t make it to Twickenham in time so had to get off the train at Reading, find a pub, watch the first half then go to a phone box and report it. Nobody even found out.’
His student antics may have left them with fond memories — but his latest shenanigans may not.