for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up

Fact Check-Genomics England is owned by the UK Department for Health

A video has confused some social media users into thinking that Britain’s health minister personally owns a genomic research company.

The clip shows Matt Hancock introducing himself as “the proud shareholder of Genomics England” to a panel (here) at the 2019 World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland (here).

Social media users have shared the video (here), declaring it is proof of a “blatant conflict of interest” (here , here here , here).

However, it is the UK health ministry that owns Genomics England, not Hancock personally.

Genomics England was set up in 2013 by the then-health minister Jeremy Hunt (here) to research personalised medicine (here).

The organisation’s website says it was launched to sequence 100,000 genomes, a complete set of someone’s genes, (here , here), from National Health Service (NHS) patients with rare diseases and common cancers (here). The research hopes to develop genomics so that doctors can predict the best treatments for individual patients (here).

Genomics England is a company (here) wholly owned by the Department for Health and Social Care (here). The organisation is accountable to the health minister, who is the only shareholder (here).

Hancock is the current health minister and therefore the shareholder, but whoever replaces him in the future will take on that responsibility. Being a shareholder of Genomics England is therefore not a conflict of interest, it is part of the job.

There have been instances where Hancock has been accused of acting dishonestly, for instance when a court ruled in February that the government broke the law by failing to publish personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts (here), or when Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ex-adviser told a parliamentary committee that Hancock should have been fired for lying - allegations the health minister strongly denied (here). However, being the shareholder of Genomics England is not evidence of wrongdoing.

Reuters has debunked previous claims that Hancock holds shares in a vaccination company (here).

VERDICT

Missing context. Matt Hancock is the shareholder of Genomics England through his job as health minister. The company is owned by the Department for Health and Social Care.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .        

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up