The Tories who helped firms win Covid contracts worth millions

New Tory sleaze row over PPE deals as ex-Conservative chairman Lord Feldman and shamed former health Secretary Matt Hancock are revealed among those who helped total of 47 firms win ‘VIP’ contracts worth more than £1.5billion at the height of the Covid pandemic

  • Feldman referred three firms to ministers before they got untendered contracts 
  • Hancock referred four, with others coming from Dom Cummings, Michael Gove
  • Lord Feldman insisted today he was just passing ‘credible offers on to officials’

Shamed ex-health secretary Matt Hancock and a former chairman of the Conservative Party were named today as among Tories who helped almost 50 firms win PPE contracts worth millions at the height of the pandemic.

Lord Feldman, a former tennis partner of David Cameron, referred three businesses to ministers before they were given untendered contracts using a ‘VIP fast lane’.

Mr Hancock, who quit in the summer after having a lockdown-breaching affair with an aide, referred four, while the list of 47 businesses also showed referrals by ex-No10 aide Dominic Cummings, as well as senior ministers including Michael Gove. 

The companies were able afterwards to access lucrative contracts for PPE equipment using a much-criticised system set up to speed through supply of vital material as the NHS struggled to cope. 

There is no suggestion that the politicians played a role in awarding contracts to businesses they referred onwards to the procurement process. 

Lord Feldman today denied any wrong-doing, insisting he was just passing ‘credible offers on to officials’ from Maxima Markets, SG Recruitment and Skinnydip. They were later awarded contracts worth £65million between them.

Lord Feldman, a former tennis partner of David Cameron, referred three businesses to ministers before they were given untendered contracts using a ‘VIP fast lane’.

Mr Hancock, who quit in the summer after having a lockdown-breaching affair with an aide, referred four, while the list of 47 businesses also showed referrals by ex-No10 aide Dominic Cummings, as well as senior ministers including Michael Gove.

‘I was an unpaid volunteer with the DHSC during the early days of the pandemic which involved considering offers sent in from potential sources of PPE or other medical supplies, and passing credible offers on to officials,’ the peer – a former tennis partner of ex-PM David Cameron – told Politico.

‘I had no previous knowledge of SG Recruitment, Skinnydip and Maxima and I have never had any commercial relationship with them or their owners.

‘I passed the offers on to officials who considered them in accordance with the DHSC procurement rules.’ 

Mr Hancock referred four companies, Excalibur Healthcare, JD.Com, Monarch Acoustics Ltd and Nine United Ltd

The Government has faced repeated claims of cronyism over its £18billion rush to source PPE and other equipment during the Covid crisis, with ministers criticised for handing lucrative contracts to personal contacts with no experience in the sector.

The former health secretary has previously been censured after he unlawfully failed to publish details of billions of pounds’ worth of coronavirus related contracts.

The High Court made a ruling in February after the Good Law Project took legal action against the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for its ‘wholesale failure’ to disclose details of contracts agreed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The former landlord of Mr Hancock’s local pub also supplied tens of millions of Covid tests to the NHS after sending him a personal WhatsApp message – despite his company having no previous experience of making medical supplies.

Alex Bourne got to know the Health Secretary while running the Cock Inn in Thurlow, West Suffolk, a few hundred yards from the Conservative MP’s constituency home. The pair are also Facebook friends.

He later set up Hinpack, a packaging manufacturer, which is now supplying a distributor contracted by the NHS with two million test tubes a week, as well as around 500,000 plastic funnels for test samples. How much the company is being paid is not yet known.

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