Report from @TransparencyUK finds that the way UK govt handled PPE/other Covid contracts "appears partisan and systemically biased in favour of those with political access." They say 20% of contracts awarded from Feb-Nov 2020 raise one or more "red flags" for possible corruption.
They say: "poor record keeping combined with opaque, uncompetitive contracting and a suspiciously high number of awards to companies with political connections has undermined public trust and justifiably fuelled criticism of the Government."
Yesterday I put it to the Daniel Bruce, TIUK's Chief Exec, that the government prioritised public health over record keeping. He said that there isn't as great a trade off as the government says there is. That the UK has a worse record on this than even Ukraine and Colombia.
TIUK's report says that 24 PPE contracts worth £1.6 billion were awarded to those with known political connections to Conservative Party.

Three contracts worth £536 million went to politically connected companies for testing related services.
They also report that fourteen companies incorporated in 2020 received contracts worth more than £620 million, of which 13 contracts totalling £255 million went to 10 firms that were less than 60 days old.
They also note that contracts awarded to politically connected companies were more likely to be published late: 72% of contracts were reported after the 30 day legal deadline, with £7.4bn worth after 100 days. Ukraine, by comparison, generally took less than a day.
The government rejects these suggests: “During the pandemic our priority has always been to protect the public and save lives, and we have used existing rules to buy life saving equipment and supplies, such as PPE for the NHS front line."
“All PPE procurement went through the same assurance process and due diligence is carried out on every contract - ministers have no role in awarding them.

“The priority list was widely advertised across government as a way of more quickly triaging offers of support."
They also point out that procurement rules designed for government to bypass standard practice in a time of emergency are not new. And that 100% of the contracts concerned have now been published. They say they quite deliberately found new non-established suppliers to meet demand
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