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Latest 04 November 2021

REVEALED: Minister’s partner’s firm awarded lucrative Covid contracts

An investigation by Good Law Project can reveal that the partner of Michelle Donelan, the Minister of State for Universities, heads up the commercial unit at a PPE company that has been awarded numerous PPE contracts. Stronghold Global have landed deals to supply NHS hospitals, Government Covid testing sites and universities.

The potential conflict has yet to be declared by the Minister in the latest published register of interests – despite Government guidance requiring ministers to declare any interests that “might reasonably be perceived to be directly relevant to that particular Minister’s public duties”.

Donelan’s partner, Tom Turner, is the Commercial Head at family-owned firm Stronghold Global. Since the onset of the pandemic, the company has sold 20 million units of PPE to three hospital trusts: North Bristol, Sheffield Teaching Hospital Foundation, and University College London Hospital Foundation. 

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In March, Turner’s firm announced a partnering deal with facilities management giant Mitie to provide PPE to the Government’s Covid-19 test centres located throughout the country. The huge contract awarded to Mitie by the Department of Health and Social Care to service the testing centres is worth a staggering £365 million – with the option for this to increase in value.

Stronghold has also provided goods to the University of Bolton and HM Revenue & Customs, according to the company’s website. 

Recent reports suggest Tom Turner’s father Benjamin Turner has also landed lucrative Government PPE deals. Benjamin is a director at Toffeln Ltd, a shoe-making firm that landed a £1.1m contract from the DHSC in April 2020 to supply visors. A deal awarded without competition.

A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office said: “The Minister has fully complied with the Ministerial Code to the satisfaction of the Independent Adviser.

“It would be wrong to suggest there is any conflict of interest. The Minister’s role at DfE has no involvement with PPE procurement decisions or the business of the company her partner works for.

“The Ministerial Code sets out the process by which Ministers should declare and manage their interests, working with their Permanent Secretary and the Independent Adviser on Ministers Interests. The Independent Adviser oversees the publication of the List of Ministers interests where they are relevant.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The Minister declared her partner’s employment, which was not deemed relevant for publication.”

Good Law Project has approached Stronghold Global for comment. 

The deeper we dig, the more we uncover. We will continue to expose the PPE procurement scandal.

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