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We’re taking legal action against the awarding of a £22.6m PPE contract to Bunzl Healthcare, a client of a close associate of the Conservative health minister Lord Bethell. The contract was awarded with no competition.
Good Law Project uncovered remarkable evidence that a Tory Minister brought a former Chair of the Tory Party, a man who now runs a lobbying firm, into the heart of Government to work on the massive multi-billion PPE procurement process. Having got his feet under the table that former Chair lobbied to win PPE contracts for at least one, and possibly a number, of clients of his lobbying firm.
The Tory Minister is Lord Bethell. The former Tory Party Chair is Lord Feldman – once described as David Cameron’s oldest and best friend – and he worked for Bethell from 23 March to 15 May 2020. And his huge lobbying firm is Tulchan, whose client list includes Bunzl Healthcare.
Bunzl was given a £22.6m PPE contract by the Department for Health without any competition in April 2020, smack bang in the middle of the period Feldman was working with Bethell. And we have also learned, from Government’s own documents, that:
1. Feldman was involved in the award of this contract. Bunzl had been removed from the Department for Health’s ‘approved suppliers list’ – and Feldman got them back on.
2. Feldman emailed Bunzl, copying in Andrew Wood whom he describes as “the person leading the accelerated procurement process in Cabinet Office” and said “I have spoken to him [Andy Wood] about Bunzl and the opportunity for you to supply the UK Government with equipment. He will be in touch”.
3. Several days later, when Bunzl thought the deal was not progressing quickly enough, it asked Feldman to intervene – which he did. On 25 March Feldman wrote directly to the line manager of the official dealing with Bunzl, encouraging him to expedite the contract award process: “We need to move quickly”.
Government is refusing to confirm which other companies linked to Cameron’s oldest friend and his lobbying firm Tulchan Communications were introduced to Government and/or won public contracts.
In order to challenge this extraordinary abuse of power, we have launched formal Judicial Review proceedings. We have instructed Joseph Barrett of 11KBW Chambers and Bindmans. You can read the Judicial Review Bundle here.
The case is being crowdfunded. If you are in a position to support this legal challenge, you can do so here.
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