Hancock and Gina: She was way out his league, Oxford friend says

Matt Hancock’s mistress Gina Coladangelo was way out of the disgraced former Health Secretary’s league while they were studying together at Oxford, a fellow alumnus revealed last night.

Broadcast journalist Maxie Allen, who worked alongside the pair at university radio station Oxygen FM in the late 1990s, recalled that men were desperate to date Miss Coladangelo while ‘low profile’ Mr Hancock cut ‘an obscure figure’ and was ‘not someone you would mark out as destined for greatness’.

Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Mr Allen told the Sunday Mirror: ‘She struck me as someone who would get what they want. He’s done well. This wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t the Health Secretary and she wasn’t lobbying, that is blatantly obvious to anyone who knew them back then.

‘Gina was very glamorous, very nice and very good looking – all the young men held a candle for her. She was suave, composed and elegant. Most men would have given their right arm to go out with her.’

The former Health Secretary, who read sports for the radio station while he studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics, was regarded as ‘low profile’ and ‘not someone you would mark out as destined for greatness’.  

He added: ‘Hancock did the odd sports report but he wasn’t well known. He was not the sort of person where he’d come into a room and everyone went, ‘Oh, Matt Hancock’s here’.

‘He had a very slight presence, not someone you would mark out as destined for greatness. Whereas Gina was very well-known and high-profile and memorable. You never saw them talking to each other.’

Mr Allen recalled Miss Coladangelo’s 21st birthday party at her parents’ home in Royston, Hertfordshire, and remarked: ‘It was a glamorous affair. They had a few bob. Gina is not the sort of person to get drunk and make a scene. She was very composed and elegant.’

It comes as close friends of Mr Hancock said that the pair are ‘in love’ and that the relationship is ‘serious’, after the former Cabinet minister quit his job and ditched his wife of 15 years to be with his ex-aide.  

Matt Hancock's mistress Gina Coladangelo was way out of the disgraced former Health Secretary's league while they were studying together at Oxford, a fellow alumnus revealed last night. Pictured, Mr Hancock (circled) at Oxford

Matt Hancock's mistress Gina Coladangelo was way out of the disgraced former Health Secretary's league while they were studying together at Oxford, a fellow alumnus revealed last night. Pictured, Mr Hancock (circled) at Oxford

Matt Hancock’s mistress Gina Coladangelo was way out of the disgraced former Health Secretary’s league while they were studying together at Oxford, a fellow alumnus revealed last night. Pictured, Mr Hancock (circled) at Oxford

Images and video showed Mr Hancock kissing the millionaire lobbyist last month, and the Health Secretary was facing increasing pressure to quit over the breaking of social-distancing rules

Images and video showed Mr Hancock kissing the millionaire lobbyist last month, and the Health Secretary was facing increasing pressure to quit over the breaking of social-distancing rules

Images and video showed Mr Hancock kissing the millionaire lobbyist last month, and the Health Secretary was facing increasing pressure to quit over the breaking of social-distancing rules

Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo (pictured) both worked at student radio station Oxygen FM

Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo (pictured) both worked at student radio station Oxygen FM

Matt Hancock and Gina Coladangelo (pictured) both worked at student radio station Oxygen FM

The MoS can reveal that the roots of that encounter, which yesterday cost Mr Hancock his job, lie more than two decades earlier in a cramped, breeze-block-walled studio beneath an Oxford nightclub called 5th Avenue. It was there, at student radio station Oxygen FM, that Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo both worked: he a minority sports reporter, she co-presenting the breakfast show.

Colleagues could not recall yesterday whether the two undergraduates, who both studied PPE, were more than just close friends at this time or whether, for instance, Mr Hancock’s honeyed radio voice set Ms Coladangelo’s pulse racing. But it is fair to say that Oxygen FM did breathe life into their burgeoning relationship – by all accounts the pair quickly grew inseparable. 

One colleague recalled that Mr Hancock eventually left Oxygen in a fit of pique when he was denied the chance to present a politics show.

Where exactly the current Mrs Hancock – born Martha Hoyer Millar – first fits into this story is uncertain. She met Mr Hancock at Oxford but it is not known if it was then or later that they fell in love. What can be said with certainty is that Matt and Martha married in 2006.

However, at no point after leaving Oxford did Mr Hancock lose touch with Ms Coladangelo and they remained the ‘closest of friends’.

She is married to dashing millionaire entrepreneur Oliver Tress, 54, who went to Kate Middleton’s school, Marlborough College, and founded the High Street fashion and lifestyle chain Oliver Bonas. They live in a £4million, six-bedroom Edwardian home.

A friend of Mr Tress said: ‘I imagine he is just falling apart over this. He had no idea that this was happening. He trusted them both.’

She is married to dashing millionaire entrepreneur Oliver Tress, 54, who went to Kate Middleton's school, Marlborough College, and founded the High Street fashion and lifestyle chain Oliver Bonas

She is married to dashing millionaire entrepreneur Oliver Tress, 54, who went to Kate Middleton's school, Marlborough College, and founded the High Street fashion and lifestyle chain Oliver Bonas

She is married to dashing millionaire entrepreneur Oliver Tress, 54, who went to Kate Middleton’s school, Marlborough College, and founded the High Street fashion and lifestyle chain Oliver Bonas

Gina Coladangelo pictured with Matt Hancock at the BBC Broadcasting House in central London in June this year. The ex-Health Secretary and his aide are said to be a 'love match'

Gina Coladangelo pictured with Matt Hancock at the BBC Broadcasting House in central London in June this year. The ex-Health Secretary and his aide are said to be a 'love match'

Gina Coladangelo pictured with Matt Hancock at the BBC Broadcasting House in central London in June this year. The ex-Health Secretary and his aide are said to be a ‘love match’

The marriage is not Ms Coladangelo’s first. She was previously married to London property lawyer Glynn Gibb.

Friends yesterday added another biographical detail – they claimed that Ms Coladangelo is a niece of Arsenal goalkeeping legend and veteran broadcaster Bob Wilson.

His son, Robert Wilson, said: ‘I can’t confirm anything. I’m not confirming or denying any detail. It doesn’t sound like an intriguing detail, it just sounds like a detail.’ 

After university, Ms Coladangelo worked in public relations in London. She later joined the lobbyists Luther Pendragon, a company which offers clients a ‘deep understanding of the mechanics of government’, and was involved in a management buyout of the business in 2005.

Invariably by Mr Hancock’s side as he endured hostile interviews over his performance as Health Secretary, she is said to have given advice on how to present himself better. ‘It’s not normal but I think he needed the support during the pandemic,’ a source said.

In March last year – as the UK was plunged into its first lockdown – Mr Hancock secretly appointed Ms Coladangelo as an unpaid adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care on a six-month contract. She has since accompanied him to confidential meetings with civil servants and has visited No10. 

In September 2020, she was made a non-executive director at the DHSC and she can claim up to £15,000 of taxpayers’ money in the role which involves advising Ministers and the department on strategic issues.

Her role only became public in November when it was reported by a newspaper and a profile was added to the government website highlighting her background in the healthcare sector.

One source said at the time: ‘Before Matt does anything big, he’ll speak to Gina. She knows everything.’ Another added: ‘She has access to lots of confidential information.’

The clinch with Mr Hancock that led to his resignation happened on May 6. In a video released by The Sun, the pair kiss for almost a minute, occasionally pulling back to smile and giggle.

Martha Hancock pictured arriving home today in London. She reportedly had no clue about the affair between Mr Hancock and his aide until she was told their marriage was over

Martha Hancock pictured arriving home today in London. She reportedly had no clue about the affair between Mr Hancock and his aide until she was told their marriage was over

Martha Hancock pictured arriving home today in London. She reportedly had no clue about the affair between Mr Hancock and his aide until she was told their marriage was over

Matt and Martha seen attending the VO5 NME Awards 2018 at London's O2 Brixton Academy

Matt and Martha seen attending the VO5 NME Awards 2018 at London's O2 Brixton Academy

Matt and Martha seen attending the VO5 NME Awards 2018 at London’s O2 Brixton Academy

A few days later, Mr Hancock warned the public to be ‘careful’ about the new freedom to hug – and suggested they should only do so outside with others who are fully vaccinated.

The Sun also published a picture of Mr Hancock and Ms Coladangelo enjoying an intimate dinner on May 23 while separate images of the pair – said to have been taken at Ours restaurant in Chelsea on May 18 – also emerged yesterday.

Meanwhile, a source told The Sun the couple were ‘at it again’ as recently as last week, adding: ‘This pandemic is far from over and he was back in there with her and their hands were all over each other – it’s so brazen.’

Ms Coladangelo was pictured loading bags into her car with the help of her husband shortly before the revelations about the clinch became public on Thursday night.

She left the family home in South-West London and apparently did not return. As the scandal deepened, it seemed only Ms Coladangelo’s physician father, Rino Coladangelo, 70, was prepared to defend her.

Speaking at his 14th Century home near Royston, Hertfordshire, he described his daughter as ‘a wonderful person’.

Asked if he thought Mr Hancock had acted hypocritically, he added: ‘I have no comment on that.’

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