A TORY health minister has a substantial share in a private health screening and Covid-19 testing firm, it has been revealed.

Nick Markham was given a peerage by Liz Truss in October 2022, with the former businessman given a role in the health department shortly before he was ennobled.

However, Markham owns around 30% of Cignpost Investments and has held his stake during the four months he's held the government position.

READ MORE: Fire breaks out at former Jenners building in Edinburgh city centre

The company was established during the pandemic, and provides Covid testing and health screening services to the public sector, the Guardian reports. 

Markham's biography on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) website makes no mention of his links with Cignpost. He was given the position in September 2022, and would be made a peer a month later. 

He did however declare the investments on his Register of Interests in the House of Lords. 

Ministerial appointments are supposed to be overseen by an independent adviser. However, after Lord Geidt's resignation under Boris Johnson six months ago, the post has remained unfilled. 

Both Labour and the LibDems have said it is not appropriate for a government minister to have a stake in a firm that clashes with his role. 

Angela Rayner, Labour deputy leader, said: “Conservative cronies have been rewarded with peerages and plum ministerial jobs while maintaining lucrative interests.

"There is a rotten stench about the revolving door the Tories have left wide open. Labour will clean up politics by restoring standards in public life with an independent ethics and integrity commission.”

Sal Brinton, the LibDem health spokesperson in the House of Lords, added: “These interests are not just inappropriate, but downright unethical.

READ MORE: Kemi Badenoch declines invitation to Holyrood committee

“The rules say that ministers should remove any conflicts of interest to prevent any influence on their judgment and maintain the public’s trust. Our minister should be held to the highest standards, but these are slipping with each new appointment.

“Lord Markham should dispose of these interests and Rishi Sunak must immediately appoint a new ethics adviser.”

DHSC declined to comment. However, it is understood that Markham has told the department he is in the process of divesting his shareholding, and that he resigned as director when he became a minister.