The director of a public relations firm paid £670,000 to advise the government’s coronavirus vaccine tsar is a longstanding business associate of Dominic Cummings’ father-in-law.
It was reported that the vaccine tsar, Kate Bingham, was step down at the end of the year following controversy over the PR contract given to Admiral Public Relations.
Bingham had used eight full-time consultants from the firm to run the vaccine coronavirus taskforce’s media strategy at a cost of £167,000 each.
Downing Street has insisted that ministers were not aware of the decision – which was not put to competitive tender – and that the contract was agreed by the business department, despite having more than 100 communications officials.
But the Financial Times reports that there is a link between the director of the company and Boris Johnson’s senior adviser Cummings.
Their research finds that one of the two directors is reported as Angus Collingwood Cameron. He is also park manager at Chillingham Castle Wild Castle Association, alongside Humphry Wakefield, director of the association and owner of the castle, as well as father-in-law of Cummings.
The report has led to further questions about the transparency behind government spend during the pandemic.
“The public deserve urgent answers as to how a small PR agency with close links to the PM’s closest adviser was simply gifted such a large contract — and what exactly was delivered for such a price tag,” said shadow cabinet office minister Rachel Reeves.
Admiral and the government had not responded to the FT’s request for comment.
Yesterday the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “Specialist communications support was contracted by the vaccine taskforce for a time-limited period in line with existing public sector recruitment practices and frameworks”.