Matt Hancock was paid £400,000 for I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here appearance

The former health secretary sparked controversy for appearing on 'I'm a Celebrity', with many angry about his handling of the pandemic. Credit: PA

Matt Hancock was paid £400,000 before tax by ITV for his appearance on I’m a Celebrity, although his entry in the register of MPs’ interests say he was paid £320,000.

I asked the former health secretary to explain the discrepancy. He said he received £320,000, and gave no further information.

It is possible the missing £80,000 went to an agent, though Matt Hancock has not said that to me.

Even if the £80,000 did go to an agent, the rules of the Register of MPs interests says “earnings should be given gross, ie before tax or other deductions”.

Hancock gave £10,000 of the fee to charity.

Having originally refused to confirm whether he paid an agent, he said: "£320k was my earnings. I did not make any deductions and did not receive £400k. The rest went to the agent who made the intro.

"Obviously I checked all this before making the declaration. I need to declare what I received, gross. That’s what I did - and it is strongly in my interest to get this declaration right”.

So here is the nub:

Hancock’s fee from ITV was £400,000. He disclosed that he “received”£320,000. He implies £80,000 of this went to an agent. The rule for MPs is they should disclose “gross” earnings “before deductions”.

So should he have disclosed his full £400,000 fee?

Much depends on the meaning in MPs’ disclosure rules of the word “earnings”. Does it mean the fee, which was £400,000, or what Hancock says he actually pocketed? He says he checked and did the right thing.

There is no reason to doubt him but the rules are unclear.

What did Boris Johnson really know about Downing Street’s notorious parties? With fresh revelations from our sources, in their own words, listen to the definitive behind-closed-doors story of one of the biggest scandals of our era...