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Latest 13 June 2024

How we’ve laid the foundations for billions to be clawed back from the PPE scandal

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What we’ve spent years doggedly uncovering about the government’s dodgy deals and cronyism during the pandemic has now paved the way for the appointment of a covid corruption commissioner.

The PPE scandal is one of the most egregious examples of political sleaze and mismanagement of public money in recent memory. £10bn was wasted on unusable or unused PPE – and that’s a figure that’s come from the government’s own mouth.

So how on earth did the government go from being unable to provide basic PPE to frontline workers at the outbreak of Covid-19 to having vast stockpiles of substandard and useless protective gowns, masks, goggles and gloves we’re still paying millions to keep stored in containers, some of them owned by Tory donors?

With the crucial backing of our supporters, we’ve been working tirelessly to get to the bottom of this very question through years of legal action and investigative journalism.

In the early months of the pandemic as the government desperately played catch-up procuring PPE for the NHS, we noticed that some of the contracts being agreed with suppliers were bizarre. We raised alarm bells over how a £108m deal was struck between the health department and a tiny pest control company.

As we pulled on this thread, we uncovered the existence of a murky VIP Lane for PPE suppliers to bagged fast-tracked contracts through their connections in government or the Conservative Party. Through this, we revealed the now infamous contracts landed PPE Medpro via a referral from Michelle Mone. These contracts are now a subject of a National Crime Agency investigation.

In so many cases, the companies referred through the VIP Lane supplied PPE at highly-inflated prices that ended up unfit for purpose.

In doing all of this work, we had to deal with legal threats whilst breaking through the government’s wall of silence. We worked with cross-party MPs to get the High Court to rule Matt Hancock’s failure to publish contract notices on time as unlawful.

But the big win came at the start of 2022, when the High Court ruled in favour of our legal challenge with Every Doctor and ruled that the government’s VIP Lane was illegal.

Following this, and interminable Freedom of Information request battles with government departments, we uncovered how Tory politicians and ministers like Michael Gove, opened the doors to cronyism on an industrial scale. And how some of this money has flowed back to the Conservative Party in the form of donations.

Our latest investigative VIP Files series with Carol Vorderman has lifted the lid on how many of the beneficiaries and fixers of botched PPE deals have been allowed by the government to walk into the sunset with their bags of cash and funnel it into prime real estate. As ministers sat on their hands, many of the firms involved have now shut up shop – making it that more difficult to reclaim the money.

But we’ve now been given a ray of hope that our efforts exposing this shameful chapter in our nation’s recent history will help to secure some justice. The Labour Party has now announced it will appoint a covid corruption commissioner to claw back some of the billions the government gave away to its friends and associates.

However, this does not mean that we stop our investigative work. Rest assured, we have a lot more to share with you in the pipeline and it’s all because of your support.

“We are pleased the new government will make every effort to claw back the ill-gotten gains of Tory cronies,” said Good Law Project’s executive director, Jo Maugham. “There has to be accountability for the industrial-scale levels of PPE sleaze and, we believe, criminality”.

“Labour’s pledge to appoint a covid corruption commissioner, a key ask of ours, is an important first step on the road to finally dealing properly with this sickening scandal”.