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Latest 09 October 2023

Recovering the billions lost on wasted PPE needs political will

Shutterstock/ Natalia Boroda

Labour has promised to appoint a Covid Corruption Commissioner if it wins power. Good Law Project is continuing our work exposing waste and sleaze by commissioning legal advice on how Government could claw back wasted money.

The Government wasted over £10bn on unused and unusable personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic. Good Law Project exposed the unlawful VIP lane that helped Ministers’ friends land huge contracts for gloves, masks and hospital gowns. While millions of people lost their jobs and struggled to make ends meet, Government cronies bought yachts and mansions.

Ministers still claim that politics had nothing to do with it, but every politician who successfully referred someone into the VIP lane was a Tory. Some of the people who won these crony contracts have now repaid the favour, making brazen donations to the Conservative Party.

A company run by one Tory donor was given a contract to distribute PPE and then another to get rid of it.

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The Government has already admitted there was “a high risk of fraud in the procurement of PPE”, but we have yet to see a single prosecution. Instead, Rishi Sunak bullied the courts into closing the door on legal challenges.

But we are not giving up – the law must apply equally to rich and poor.

The Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves, has now announced that, if Labour win power at the next election, she would establish a Covid Corruption Commissioner.

The Executive Director of Good Law Project, Jo Maugham, hailed this step as a “very positive development”.

“The scale of PPE waste and corruption is sickening,” Maugham said, “over £10bn lost – more than four in every five pounds spent. If you’re serious about looking after public money – yours and mine – you want those billions back. Recovering them starts with political will. Until now that has been sorely lacking.”

Good Law Project will continue to drive the agenda forward on the issue, commissioning expert legal advice on what a future administration might do to take on the huge task of recovering public money.

And thanks to the huge support we received, we’ve appointed two distinguished journalists to comb through the vast amount of unpublished data we hold relating to PPE contracts. They’re starting this week on a year-long project to investigate the Government’s misuse of public money during the pandemic.

  • Good Law Project only exists thanks to donations from people across the UK. Any support you can give will help us make positive change.