10 Tory MPs and peers referred firms to ‘VIP lane’ for Covid PPE contracts, according to a sleaze row

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10 Tory MPs and peers referred firms to ‘VIP lane’ for Covid PPE contracts, according to a sleaze row

A Tory minister, MP, or peer referred more than a quarter of the companies that were awarded contracts to the fast-track scheme.

A slew of Tory MPs, ministers, and peers were able to refer PPE firms to a “VIP lane” that significantly increased the chances of the government awarding contracts to them over firms that had bid through the normal channels.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) established the exclusive list during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic to expedite company offers to supply PPE.

It allowed ministers, MPs, Lords, and top government officials to recommend companies that could assist in securing PPE for healthcare workers in 2020, when the UK was having difficulty sourcing equipment.

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), firms recommended through this route were considered “more credible” or “needed to be treated with more urgency” by the cross-government PPE team.

All of the cases were subjected to conflict of interest and anti-fraud checks.

The list’s release comes as the Conservative Party is embroiled in a sleaze scandal following the government’s U-turn on the Owen Paterson scandal.

The VIP lane awarded contracts worth a total of £4.7 billion to 47 companies, and companies on the list had a 10 times higher contract success rate.

The route was “widely advertised across Government as a way of more quickly triaging offers of support,” according to the government, but no other political party was successful in referring businesses to the fast-track scheme.

During the pandemic, the Labour Party has accused the government of awarding contracts to people with Tory ties.

More than a third of the 47 companies awarded contracts by the VIP lane were referred by Tory MPs, ministers, or peers.

According to the list, then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock referred four firms that were later awarded contracts, and Cabinet minister Michael Gove referred two firms that were successful.

Members of the Cabinet

Members of Parliament

Compatriots

Meller Designs, a firm run by Conservative donor David Meller, was referred to the VIP lane by Mr Gove.

It was awarded nearly £50 million in contracts.

Because Mr Meller donated, the minister has been accused of “cronyism” for nominating the company.

UK news summary from Infosurhoy

10 Tory MPs and peers referred firms to ‘VIP lane’ for Covid PPE contracts, according to a sleaze row

Sleaze row: How 10 Tory MPs and peers referred firms to ‘VIP lane’ for Covid PPE contracts

Which Conservatives referred firms to the VIP lane?

Ministers

  • Matt Hancock, former Health Secretary
  • Michael Gove, former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancester who is now Housing Secretary

MPs

  • Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East
  • Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole
  • Steve Brine, MP for Winchester
  • Esther McVey, MP for Tatton

Peers

  • Lord Agnew
  • Lord Deighton
  • Lord Feldman
  • Baroness Mone

Sleaze row: How 10 Tory MPs and peers referred firms to ‘VIP lane’ for Covid PPE contracts

Which Conservatives referred firms to the VIP lane?

Ministers

  • Matt Hancock, former Health Secretary
  • Michael Gove, former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancester who is now Housing Secretary

MPs

  • Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East
  • Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole
  • Steve Brine, MP for Winchester
  • Esther McVey, MP for Tatton

Peers

  • Lord Agnew
  • Lord Deighton
  • Lord Feldman
  • Baroness Mone

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