Grant Shapps told Sky News that former lobbyist Gina Coladangelo – who the Health Secretary met at university – would have gone through an “incredibly rigorous” process to get the job.
Asked about the rules around appointing friends to Government positions, Mr Shapps said: “First of all, I think the actual issue is entirely personal for Matt Hancock.
“In terms of rules, anyone who has been appointed has to go through an incredibly rigorous process in Government, so whatever the rules are, the rules will have to be followed.
“There are no shortcuts to that, as anyone who has had anything to do with the appointments system in the Civil Service knows."
Grant Shapps said he thought the rules had been followed by Matt Hancock, following the emergence of CCTV images of him allegedly kissing his aide while hugging was still banned.
The Transport Secretary told LBC radio: “I have seen the photo but, as ever with private matters, I always try to avoid commenting on other people’s personal lives and I think I’ll stick with that tradition here.”
Asked whether the Health Secretary should have been “ignoring social distancing”, Mr Shapps replied: “I’m quite sure that whatever the rules were at the time were followed.
“You’ll recall that there was a point at which social distancing rules were changed but, as I say, I don’t want to comment on somebody else’s private life – that is for them.”