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Court to hear case on Tory cronyism following award of £650m in PPE contracts

Health secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street - Credit: PA

A legal challenge over the government’s decision to award more than £650 million in contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) will be heard at the High Court.

The Good Law Project and EveryDoctor claim contracts awarded to PestFix, Clandeboye and Ayanda Capital were given unlawfully at the height of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in April and May 2020.

PestFix was awarded six contracts, including one worth more than £32 million for isolation suits, which the campaign groups claim involved “substantial pre-payments” and a lack of proper vetting.

The two groups claim the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has failed to provide evidence it conducted any negotiations which applied equally between prospective suppliers.

They also claim DHSC has failed to provide proper reasons for why PestFix got the contracts.

The groups say a “substantial proportion” of the PPE procured under six contracts awarded to PestFix, two to Clandeboye and one contract to Ayanda – which were worth more than £650 million, were unfit for purpose.

The Good Law Project and EveryDoctor also claim the government failed to financially or technically verify the potential suppliers, and that the alleged use of a high priority lane for some suppliers without transparency gave companies an unfair advantage.

Last month, a High Court judge said database searches should be carried out to trace communications with ministers, including health secretary Matt Hancock, relating to the selection of firms for a high-priority “VIP lane”.

The judicial review claim against the Department of Health and Social Care will be heard remotely over five days by Mrs Justice O’Farrell, and is expected to end on Tuesday next week.

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