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Latest 17 November 2020

The US jeweller, the middleman, and the UK Government

Almost $50 million to one man. Not to supply PPE, because he didn’t. But to act as a middleman to sort the logistics for the jeweller from Florida whom the UK Government selected to supply £250 million worth of PPE.

The Florida jeweller is called Michael Saiger. And we can’t tell you the total he earned from those contracts worth more than £250 million – inexplicably the Government has blanked out the numbers – but he boasts of having secured “lucrative contracts with the government of the United Kingdom”.

And it doesn’t stop there.

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The particular contract award we are challenging – entered into on 4 June for £70.5 million worth of gowns (of which a little over $16 million went to the middleman) – was for 10.2 million gowns, which is approximately the entire number of gowns consumed by the NHS in England from the start of the pandemic until early November. And the price we paid the jeweller (£6.91) was £2.31 above the average price we paid others (£4.60) for those gowns during the pandemic, suggesting (if those others made a profit of 10%) a profit for the jeweller of £28 million, before he paid the middleman.

“Lucrative” indeed. And this was only one of (at least) six contracts the jeweller won. All of which were published unlawfully late, by many, many months.

The cosy arrangement between Saiger and the middleman didn’t last long. According to documents in an ongoing court battle, the middleman stopped performing. And we lost out: there were delays in delivering the PPE to the NHS.

But our focus isn’t on the individuals who made staggering profits from the pandemic. If the Government is handing out free money, who could blame them for joining the queue? Our focus is on the Government which let them.

What were their reasons for deciding to award this huge contract to a jewellery specialist over other suppliers? Why did they pay over the odds for the PPE? What steps did they take to satisfy themselves that Saiger was up to the job of delivering on such a huge order of PPE. Did they check the reliability of the subcontractor?

Together with EveryDoctor, yesterday we sent a judicial review pre-action protocol letter to Government asking for answers. The legal challenge will be crowdfunded. If you would like to support this, you can do so here.

You and I – and our children – are going to have to pay higher taxes because Government’s incompetence handed fortunes big enough to last generations to obscure foreign businessmen.

We consider the award of this contract, as with so many others this Government has entered into, to be unlawful. If the answers from Government aren’t good enough, and we expect they won’t be, we will issue proceedings.

It is only with your support that we can continue to hold Government to account. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so here.