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Latest 13 October 2022

Close friend of MP involved with company handed a multi-million Covid testing contract

Further links between a politically-connected firm that received a multi-million pound contract during the Covid pandemic and a Conservative MP have been revealed.

SureScreen Diagnostics Ltd was awarded a £503 million deal to provide lateral flow antigen tests after an intervention from Dr Liam Fox.

Good Law Project obtained an email sent from him to then-health secretary Matt Hancock in which he pushed for the Derbyshire-based company’s products to receive Government approval.

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Dr Fox vehemently denied reports he had lent a helping hand to secure the lucrative contract, accusing us of a smear campaign.

“This is a baseless smear concocted by the political activist Jolyon Maugham and Good Law Project,” he said, adding he was pursuing legal advice on the matter.

A month on, we are yet to hear from him or his lawyers.

SureScreen said it was not aware Dr Fox had intervened on its behalf, and that its five-figure donation of £20,000 registered by the MP following the contract was “not connected in any way to lobbying”.

Yet we can now reveal further links between SureScreen and a once close friend of Dr Fox, Adam Werritty.

We have seen a series of messages, sent over the course of two years, which indicate lobbyist Werrity was involved in the negotiation of sales for SureScreen.

We approached him for comment but did not receive a response.

SureScreen confirmed he had a direct contractual relationship with the company. It denies any wrongdoing. Its director, David Campbell, told us:

“During the pandemic, Mr Werrity approached Surescreen via his company to discuss export opportunities. As part of these discussions, he signed our terms and conditions and asked for samples of our tests to be exported for evaluation. Only one of these opportunities, a German company, ever came to fruition and they purchased a small number of tests. The relevant contract was a direct one negotiated between and entered into by SureScreen and the German company only, and not with Mr Werrity.”

The confirmation was immediately followed by a letter from SureScreen’s lawyers wrongly marked ‘Private and Confidential’ and ‘Not for Publication’, which you can read here.

If Werritty’s name seems familiar that’s because it is.

While serving as defence secretary in former prime minister David Cameron’s Cabinet, Dr Fox was found to have breached the ministerial code, and his actions deemed a security risk, over the nature of his friendship with Werritty.

Not only had Werritty visited the Ministry of Defence dozens of times, he had accompanied Dr Fox on 18 foreign trips, attending official meetings and handing out business cards suggesting he was the minister’s adviser.

The Cabinet Office was not aware of Werrity, he had no official role within the MoD nor had he received formal security clearance.

Questions were also raised about who funded his business activities and whether he was able to personally benefit from his access to Dr Fox and the heart of government.

As the revelations kept coming and pressure mounted, Dr Fox folded and resigned from the Government. In his parting letter to Cameron, he admitted he had “mistakenly allowed” personal interests and government activities to become “blurred”.

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