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Latest 23 February 2023

We’ve won another freedom of information battle with Government

PjrNews / Alamy Stock Photo

The Department of Health & Social Care have now been ordered to reply to our request for a copy of all WhatsApp messages between Matt Hancock and his publican friend, Alex Bourne. The Information Commissioner’s office ruled that the DHSC breached Freedom of Information guidelines.

Remember the story of Matt Hancock and Alex Bourne, the publican turned medical equipment supplier?

The Department of Health & Social Care have now been ordered to reply to our request for a copy of all WhatsApp messages between the pair.

The Information Commissioner’s office ruled that the DHSC breached Freedom of Information guidelines. The DHSC have been ordered to provide a response within 35 days or risk being in contempt of court.

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Matt Hancock claimed that his friend Alex Bourne “never got a contract from the Government”. Bourne was the landlord of Matt Hancock’s local pub – a photo of which Hancock displayed on his office wall – and also the owner of Hinpack, a manufacturer of plastic cups.

In a way, Hancock was right – none of the published Covid equipment contracts showed Hinpack’s name. But the truth ran deeper than that. Unredacted documents showed that the Department for Health and Social Care – Hancock’s department – offered a £40m contract to Alpha Laboratories, another company, on the proviso that they sub-contracted the manufacturing of goods to Hinpack.

How much of a role did Hancock have in that contract? Bourne joked “Matt Hancock – never heard of him” when Hancock warned him in a WhatsApp message that the story of their links was about to break. But now, after our Freedom of Information request, we’re going to hear the rest of the story.

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