Bunzl: We’re going to Court

Forget about Greensill. Only last year, a Minister brought a former Chair of the Tory Party, a man who now runs a lobbying firm, into the heart of Government to work on PPE procurement. Having got his feet under the table that former Chair lobbied to win PPE contracts for at least one, and possibly a number of, clients of his lobbying firm.

The Tory Minister is Lord Bethell. The former Tory Party Chair is Lord Feldman – once described as David Cameron’s oldest and best friend – who worked for Bethell from 23 March to 15 May 2020. And his huge lobbying firm is Tulchan, whose client list includes Bunzl Healthcare.

Bunzl was given a £22.6m PPE contract by the Department for Health without any competition in April 2020, smack bang in the middle of the period Feldman was working with Bethell. And we now know that:

  • Feldman was involved in the award of this contract. Bunzl had been removed from the Department for Health’s ‘approved suppliers list’ – and Feldman got them back on. An email from Feldman to Bunzl on 22 March 2020 states that he was acting as “an unpaid advisor to Matthew Hancock at the department of health…but that there have been some historic issues which mean that you have been removed from the approved suppliers list. I would like to remedy that as soon as possible”.
  • On the same day, he emailed Bunzl, copying in Andrew Wood whom he describes as “the person leading the accelerated procurement process in Cabinet Office” and said “I have spoken to him [Andy Wood] about Bunzl and the opportunity for you to supply the UK Government with equipment. He will be in touch”.
  • And then, several days later, when Bunzl thought the deal was not progressing quickly enough, it asked Feldman to intervene – which he did. On 25 March Feldman wrote directly to the line manager of the official dealing with Bunzl, encouraging him to expedite the contract award process: “We need to move quickly”.

We brought judicial review proceedings and we are pleased to tell you that the High Court has granted us permission to bring our judicial review on the first three of our Grounds (breach of the duties of transparency and equal treatment, apparent bias, and breach of the Defendant’s own policies in respect of conflicts of interest). You can see its decision here.

On the fourth ground, which concerns other Lord Feldman conflicts of interest, the Court refused permission but we are ‘renewing’ our request before the High Court.

Public office is for public service, not private gain.


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