Hancock defends 'decent' charity donation from jungle fee

Former health secretary questioned over decision to enter the Australian jungle.

Matt Hancock has insisted he did not “primarily” go on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! for the money.

The former health secretary also described the 3% of his £320,000 fee he gave to charity as a “decent sum”.

Hancock said the £10,000 donation was “more than my MPs’ salary” that he still received while appearing on the reality TV show in the Australian jungle.

Entering the show amid criticism from constituents and colleagues, Hancock’s team said he would be donating a portion of his appearance fee.

He revealed the sum given to the St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk and the British Dyslexia Association after official records showed his fee amounted to £320,000.

In an interview with Good Morning Britain on STV, the Tory MP said: “I didn’t primarily do it (go on the reality show) for the money, I primarily did it to try to show who I am.

“I think £10,000 is actually a decent sum.”

He confirmed he still received his MP salary while in the jungle, but said his donations were larger than that sum, which is around £7,000 per month.

The West Suffolk MP, who lost the Tory whip over the appearance, did concede that “of course there was a discussion and negotiation over the fee”.

But he insisted that he “certainly would have considered” doing the programme for £10 and denied negotiations soared after he turned down initial offers.

Hancock was forced to resign as health secretary after leaked CCTV footage showed him breaching his own Covid-19 guidance by kissing his assistant Gina Coladangelo.

On Tuesday, he was questioned by presenter Kate Garraway, whose husband Derek Draper spent a year in hospital being treated for coronavirus.

Garraway said: “I couldn’t visit Derek in hospital, he couldn’t see his kids. Thousands of others couldn’t go and see the people they loved.

“It gives the impression that you still don’t get why they’re cross. You still don’t get why people are upset because that amount of money is vast to everybody.”

Hancock replied: “I get all that, I really do, and I really feel it.”

He argued he must discuss what happened so the public can “learn as much as possible”.

“I feel like it’s my duty because we’re all human, we all make mistakes,” he said.

Hancock came in third in I’m A Celebrity behind England footballer Jill Scott and actor Owen Warner.

Records on the MPs’ register of interests showed that he received £320,000 from Lifted Entertainment, ITV Studios, for the work which he listed as lasting for 30 days.

His appearance was criticised by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other top Tories, as well as mocked by some fellow MPs.

More than 1,000 complaints were made to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom over his participation.

The register also showed he had been paid £48,000 for an interview and the serialisation of his book, Pandemic Diaries, in the Daily Mail and Mail On Sunday newspapers.

After leaving I’m A Celebrity, he announced that he would not be standing for the Conservatives at the next general election.

It was previously revealed that Hancock had also earned £45,000 for taking part in Channel 4’s Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.

A previous register entry revealed he spent 80 hours filming the programme while Parliament was in recess between September 24 and October 8, shortly before heading to Australia.

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