Cross-party MPs to sue UK government for details of Covid PPE contracts | World news

MPs are to launch legal action to force the government to reveal details of hundreds of personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts, amid mounting complaints over the secrecy around the deals.

A cross-party group of MPs has signed a pre-action letter accusing ministers of breaching transparency rules and demanding the immediate disclosure of the contracts, which are valued at more than £5bn. The legal letter claims: “Publication of the contracts themselves appears not to be happening in relation to Covid-19 contracts on a routine basis.”

The Labour, Lib Dem and Green MPs cite a series of contracts over which concerns have been raised. Details of a contract awarded to Ayanda Capital worth £252m have not been published; the 50m masks it supplied were later deemed unsuitable for use by NHS workers. Details of another £32m contract awarded to Crisp Websites, a pest-control firm trading under the name of PestFix, have also not yet been published.

The letter, drawn up by the Good Law Project, states that there has been a “repeated failure” to publish notices revealing that contracts have been awarded, breaching a legal duty to do so within 30 days for contracts worth more than£10,000. It also claims the government has repeatedly broken a pledge to publish details of the contracts within 20 days.

According to the government, more than 600 contracts for PPE have now been concluded with almost 200 different suppliers. They range in value from less than £1m to many tens of millions, and total £5.5bn.

The Labour MP Debbie Abrahams said: “It is wholly unacceptable that as an MP I cannot put the government’s decisions to award these huge contracts under scrutiny, and leads me to wonder what it is they have to hide.”

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, said: “Clearly it was necessary to move fast in the early weeks of this crisis, particularly given the government’s failure to ensure there were adequate PPE stocks in the event of a pandemic. But that does not excuse what looks like cronyism.”

The Liberal Democrat Layla Moran called for “urgent assurances and proof that contracts were awarded to the best possible companies”.

A government spokesperson said: “Throughout this global pandemic, we have been working tirelessly to deliver PPE to protect people on the frontline. Over 2.9bn items have been delivered, and more than 30bn have been ordered from UK-based manufacturers and international partners to provide a continuous supply which meets the needs of health and social care staff both now and in the future.

“We are absolutely committed to being transparent in the awarding of contracts and we aim to publish these as soon as possible.”

Source: The Guardian

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *