Introductions from just six Conservative Party politicians led to ‘VIPs’ being awarded contracts worth an eye-watering £5 billion.
First published: Dec 2022.
F or over a year, we have worked to uncover the identities of those treated as VIPs under contracts awarded as part of the Government’s £37 billion pound Test and Trace programme.
In September, following a long-standing Freedom of Information battle, we finally forced the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to come clean and publish the names of the firms who benefitted.
But, one crucial piece of information remained missing – the names of the ministers, MPs or officials who won VIP treatment for the firms. Until now.
Today, UKHSA finally provided us with the names (you can see them here).
We can reveal:
▫ Innova Medical landed COVID contracts valued at £4 billion via the ‘VIP’ lane after its UK partner, a company trading under the name ‘Tried & Tested’ contacted Boris Johnson’s former advisor, Dominic Cummings.
▫ Surescreen Diagnostics landed a £500m contract after Liam Fox MP referred the firm to Matt Hancock – Surescreen subsequently donated £20,000 to Liam Fox.
▫ Matt Hancock assisted Ecolog International onto the ‘VIP’ lane after being contacted by Genix Healthcare – a company that has donated £156,000 to the Conservative Party. Hancock’s Department paid Ecolog £38m in 2021, after the Government decided not to proceed with previously contracted COVID work.
▫ Conservative Peer Lord Prior introduced a company called LumiraDx to Lord Bethell. The firm was awarded COVID contracts worth over £45 million.
▫ Lord Bethell referred a company called OptiGene Ltd after being contacted by a Cabinet Office official – OptiGene were subsequently awarded a £322m contract, leading to a 1,221% increase in profits to £41m.
▫ Another Conservative Peer, Lord Lansley, introduced a company called Accora onto the ‘VIP’ lane.
▫ Only Conservative Party Peers, MPs and donors appear to be named as referrers – no politician from any other political party succeeded in referring suppliers onto the COVID testing VIP lane.
We will continue to investigate the latest ‘VIP’ lane scandal. But we can only do this with your support.
If you would like to make a donation, you can do so here.
— AUTHORS —
▫ Good Law Project, a not-for-profit campaign organisation that uses the law to protect the interests of the public.
GoodLawProjectonly exists thanks to donations from people across the UK. If you’re ina position to support their work, you can do so here.
- Text: This piece was originally published in Good Law Project and re-published in PMP Magazine on 26 December 2022, with the authors’ consent. | The authors write in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Adobe Stock/WoGi.