Kwasi Kwarteng defends Matt Hancock during GMB interview

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The Health Secretary failed to declare that a family firm he held shares in won an NHS contract. But he did not know about the deal and the failure was in “no way deliberate”.

Lord Geidt, the PM’s adviser on standards, said the “technical breach” should not “impugn his good character”. Mr Hancock declared in the MPs’ register of interests in March that he owns 20 percent of shares in Topwood.

The firm specialises in secure storage, shredding and scanning of documents.

It won a place on a framework to supply the English NHS Shared Business Services in 2019, as well as contracts with the NHS in Wales, after Mr Hancock was given his Cabinet brief in 2018.

Lord Geidt found that the award of the contract to Topwood could be seen to “represent a conflict of interest” that should have been declared.

But he said: “I accept that the scale of NHS operations in England are broad and that the activity of NHS SBS may have been very far from the Secretary of State’s main focus.

“I assess this earlier failure to declare the interest was as a result of his lack of knowledge and in no way deliberate, and therefore, in technical terms, a minor breach of the ministerial code.”

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