Press release 22nd Jun 2021

Serious questions over Health Secretary’s relationship with shareholders of healthcare company

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Related Publication

New reporting reveals minister promoted firm’s app after £200k donation

 

June 22, 2021 - The Secretary of State for Health should clarify the extent of his relationship with shareholders of a digital healthcare provider following revelations he promoted one of the company's products shortly after sizable donations to the Conservative Party and his leadership campaign, Transparency International UK said today.

A company believed to be owned by a former shareholder of Babylon Healthcare gave a total of £200,000 to the Conservative Party through donations between 2017 and 2018.

Shortly after being appointed Health Secretary in mid-July 2018, Mr Hancock told Parliament he was a user of Babylon’s ‘GP at Hand’ app. He went on to tout the app as ‘revolutionary’ in one newspaper interview and talked about his use of it in another.

These donations to the Conservative Party, and a subsequent £10,000 donation to the Health Secretary’s campaign for party leader in April 2019, were first reported today and underscore a trend of the lines between public office and private interests becoming increasingly blurred.

 

Daniel Bruce, Chief Executive of Transparency International UK, said:

“These revelations raise serious questions as to whether a senior minister has played a role in promoting a private company, which is in receipt of public funds from his department. Furthermore, we need to know the extent to which the Secretary of State knew the identity of the firm’s financial backers. Given the apparently close relationship between shareholders in the company and those in government, there should be full and candid disclosure of who knew what and when – and how any conflicts of interest were handled. The established facts in this case are further cause for concern that not enough is being done to immunise politics and the public interest from the distorting effect big money.”

 

Notes to editors

The donations from current and former shareholders of Babylon Healthcare were reported by the Guardian, the BBC’s File on 4 and SourceMaterial.