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.
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