Good Law Project has seen documents showing the Government misled Parliament, the National Audit Office and the High Court about the size of the illegal VIP lane it adopted, which advantaged associates of Government Ministers.
In October 2020, Good Law Project revealed the existence of the VIP lane. In November 2020, the Government informed the National Audit Office that there were 47 VIPs. In November 2021, after losing an FOI battle with Good Law Project, it published a list of 50 VIPs. However, internal Government documents leaked to Good Law Project now reveal that the true number of companies fast-tracked down the ‘VIP’ lane was far higher.
We can reveal that at least 18 other companies, who between them were directly awarded a further £984 million in PPE contracts, were also given the ‘VIP’ treatment.
The full list of additional names can be found here. These 68 VIPs were awarded a total of £4.9 billion in PPE contracts – all without competition.
The new VIPs include:
- Hong Kong based oil and gas firm Jason Offshore Equipment was handed a £25 million contract in June 2020. 18 months later, the DHSC still hasn’t published the contract, directly contradicting Boris Johnson’s claims in Parliament that all PPE contracts were now “on the record”.
- PPE contracts worth £173 million were awarded to China Meheco Co. Ltd and Winner Medical, both of whom have been linked to Uighur human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Government has previously misled the public about other aspects of the deal.
- A £96 million contract awarded to Beijing Union Glory Investment Co. Ltd – a firm that operated out of a hotel room in Beijing.
- State controlled China National Instruments Import & Export Group landed three contracts worth £130,000,000.
Jo Maugham, Director of Good Law Project said, “The Department of Health’s Annual Report revealed that of every £13 we spent on PPE, £10 was wasted. How long must hard-working taxpayers carry the heavy burden of this Government’s waste and sleaze?”
Good Law Project approached the Department for Health and Social Care and the Cabinet Office for comment. The 18 companies named above may not have been aware they were included on a ‘VIP’ list and no wrongdoing by the companies is alleged.
In 1994 the UK parliament’s “the knowledge that Ministers and civil servants may evade questions and put the best gloss on the facts but will not lie or knowingly mislead the House of Commons is one of the most powerful tools MPs have in holding the executive to account”.
The misleading of parliament is the knowing presentation of false information to parliament, a very serious charge in Westminster system parliamentary assemblies.
Government ministers who are found to have misled parliament will generally lose their ministerial portfolio. By convention, a minister found to have misled parliament is expected to resign or face being sacked.