- Government gets a bona fide PPE offer from a would be supplier.
- The company has sourced the PPE, submitted a bid and passed through the technical checks.
- They’re close to signing on the dotted line. But …
But at the eleventh hour they get dropped. Instead, Government buys the same thing from someone else. Someone who came in later but with close connections to Cabinet Ministers - and at an eye watering price.
This is a story we have heard, with close variants, again and again. But Government secrecy means we haven’t been able to corroborate it - until now.
The bare facts of what Good Law Project has learned about two contracts awarded to Pharmaceuticals Direct Limited (PDL) are extraordinary. We hold documents evidencing that:
- Priti Patel and Boris Johnson’s adviser Munira Mirza pushed the case of two middlemen for PDL with Cabinet Office;
- the first middleman was Samir Jassal. He is a Conservative councillor who has been photographed with Boris Johnson (and May and Cameron) and who has personal links to Priti Patel and a string of other high profile Conservative politicians;
- the second middleman was Surbjit Shergill. A company he owned went from £200 to almost £10m in value in the year of the pandemic. Documents leaked to Good Law Project suggest he billed PDL over £16m for his services;
- the first contract, for IIR face masks, was signed only six days after a direct intervention from Priti Patel – and for a price materially above the average price;
- the second contract, for ‘Meixin 2016V’ FFP3 face masks, was concluded on 7 July - and only after officials from the political hub of PPE procurement, the Cabinet Office, overruled objections from DHSC that it was _overpriced by £50m_;
- another bidder had passed technical assurance – and had even been sent a contract – to supply Meixin 2016Vs at the same time and in meaningfully the same quantity. On 2 July, they were told Government had already bought enough of that type of mask. Five days later Government spent over £100m buying Meixin 2016Vs from PDL.
Good Law Project has published a long read on how a number of politicians and advisors intervened in PDL’s bid for a lucrative contract. We link to all the key documents. And there is more to come. All involved say they did nothing wrong - and their responses can be found in the long read. We think the evidence we have published speaks for itself.
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We are taking legal action over the award of contracts to PDL. If you are in a position to do so, you can donate here.
Director of Good Law Project
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