Ministers continue to mislead Parliament over Covid contracts

Instead of coming to the House, apologising and setting the record straight about Boris Johnson’s falsehood that all the Covid-related contract details are “on the record”, yesterday Cabinet Office Minister Edward Argar decided to double down – claiming “the Prime Minister spoke accurately” on 22 February.

But he did not. 

According to his own lawyers 100 Covid-related contracts were missing at the time Boris Johnson spoke – he failed to disclose this – and weeks later Government continues to sneak out contracts awarded in April 2020, that hitherto were nowhere on the record. Now it transpires that one of these previously hidden contracts – worth a whopping £22.6 million – was awarded without competition to Tory-linked firm: Bunzl Healthcare

Lord Feldman, former Conservative Party Chair, worked as an unpaid adviser to Health Minister Lord Bethell between March 24 and May 15 last year – whilst also running a lobbying firm. One of the clients of that lobbying firm was – you guessed it – Bunzl Healthcare.

When this potential conflict of interest was aired in November 2020, Bunzl dismissed the concerns stating:

“Bunzl did not receive any orders for PPE from the central government procurement process convened by the Cabinet Office during the pandemic’. 

What we learned, from a contract that was published unlawfully late and whose existence the Prime Minister denied, is that Bunzl were awarded a contract in April 2020 – during the period that Feldman advised Bethell.

We’ve approached the Government and Bunzl for comment about this direct award, so far neither has obliged.


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