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Ministers among main routes for Covid PPE deal ‘VIP’ channel, court hears

Civil servants said firms referred via political connections could receive ‘hand-holding’ service, emails show

The Cabinet Office minister Lord Agnew, the health minister Lord Bethell and one of Matt Hancock’s most senior officials were among the “main routes” through which well-connected people were referred to a “VIP” channel to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, a court has heard.

In internal emails revealed as part of a legal challenge brought by the Good Law Project (GLP), civil servants explained that the “VIP route”, or “high priority lane”, provided companies referred via political connections with a personal service including “hand-holding”. One official, whose name has remained confidential, explained to Max Cairnduff, a Cabinet Office procurement director, that referrals came from a handful of “main routes”, including Bethell, Agnew and Jonathan Marron, the director general of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) “working to Matt Hancock”. Companies referred by Bethell, the official said, “require a personal response”.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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