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Latest 20 April 2021

Revealed: £102.6 million to ex-No10 advisor

We already knew that Boris Johnson had misled Parliament when he insisted in February that all COVID contracts were “on the record”. Now we’ve uncovered a new contract that makes further nonsense of that claim.

In July 2020 Pharmaceuticals Direct Limited was handed a £102.6 million Government PPE contract – without any competition. Though it was awarded the multi-million pound deal to supply face masks last July, Government failed to publish any details relating to the contract until March this year. In fact, it was only after our lawyers wrote to Government about Pharmaceuticals Direct that this lucrative contract was disclosed, long after Boris Johnson claimed all contract details were on the record. The company’s named representative was a man named Samir Jassal. 

Samir Jassal is a well-connected figure within the Conservative Party.  A two-time Conservative Party parliamentary candidate and former councillor, he has met Boris Johnson on at least three occasions, with the last meeting held in October 2020. According to his LinkedIn profile, he was an adviser in No.10 during David Cameron’s premiership in 2015 and has worked with several other prominent Conservative Party figures, including the Home Secretary Priti Patel and Minister Zac Goldsmith. Jassal has also donated £4,000 to the Conservative Party in recent years.

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Equally shocking is Government’s attempt to rewrite history – after the BBC approached the DHSC for comment they amended the contract notice to remove any mention of Samir Jassal as the supplier’s contact name:

Here’s the contract award notice as published:

Here’s the contract award notice today:

This £102.6 million contract is not the only one handed to Pharmaceuticals Direct by the Department for Health and Social Care – the firm received an earlier PPE contract in May 2020, worth £28.8 million. Both deals were directly awarded to the firm without any competition. 

The High Court has already ruled that Government acted unlawfully by failing to publish details of Covid-related contracts. The appearance of bias in some of these lucrative contracts awarded without competition is cause for even greater concern. 

The more details that we uncover on PPE contracts, the more serious the questions that arise. In this case Government’s apparent amnesia when it comes to its legal obligations has prevented timely public scrutiny of a multi-million pound direct award to a Tory party member and donor. 

We intend to get answers. To hold Government to account and protect public funds, we have sent a pre-action protocol letter initiating legal proceedings. 

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