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Two weeks ago, the High Court ruled that the Government’s secretive VIP lane, which fast-tracked firms with political connections to PPE deals worth billions of pounds, was unlawful.
Not only was this fast-track route illegal, it was also incredibly wasteful. New figures show an eye-watering £437 million was spent on PPE from just three VIP suppliers. The PPE remains unusable or unavailable for release to frontline NHS staff.
In response to a question from Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner, Health Minister Edward Argar confirmed that the Government had bought PPE from Pestfix worth £169 million, and Ayanda at a further £145 million, that are “not currently available for release to the National Health Service due to technical and quality issues”.
The Government also awarded a £122 million contract to PPE Medpro to supply gowns that were never used. We now know PPE Medpro landed a place on the unlawful VIP lane after being referred by Conservative Peer Baroness Mone.
This means the Government wasted almost half a billion pounds of public money on just three politically connected companies. There were 50 firms on the VIP list in total.
Documents released to Good Law Project via a Freedom of Information request last week also reveal the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) flagged concerns over the specification of gowns from a company called Clandeboye. The HSE stated in a safety notice that some of the PPE did “not meet the requirements”. However, the correspondence reveals the Government overruled the regulator. Now, despite the Government’s intervention, the vast majority of the gowns remain locked away in storage.
The waste just keeps mounting. And no wonder, when sidestepping process and rampant cronyism are the hallmarks of this Government’s Covid response.
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