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Thursday, November 05, 2020

More controversy over Covid contracts for Tory-linked firms

Stories of contracts for services and equipment relating to the Covid pandemic being given to firms linked to the Tory Party continue to surface in the media at an embarrassing rate, so much so that, given the failures around PPE that have plagued the government's response, this issue must surely form part of an inquiry into the way the virus was handled once we have got over the worst of it.

The latest story is in yesterday's Guardian and involves the awarding of a new £347m Covid-19 testing contract to Randox, the Tory-linked private healthcare company whose testing kits had to be recalled over the summer because of concerns about contamination.

The paper says that the deal is a six-month extension of an existing contract and was agreed without other companies being invited to bid. It means the health secretary, Matt Hancock, has now approved transfers of nearly half a billion pounds in taxpayer funds to the Northern Ireland-based company since the pandemic began:

Disclosed in a filing on a European contracts website, the award has prompted concerns about “cronyism” and calls for an independent inquiry into the £12bn spent so far on attempting to control the pandemic through the test-and-trace system.

Critics raised further concerns about a separate revelation that the Conservative MP Owen Paterson, who is paid £100,000 a year to act as a consultant for Randox, was party to a call between the company and James Bethell, the health minister responsible for coronavirus testing supplies.

The disclosure raises fresh questions about Paterson’s continuing work for Randox, and the efficacy of the code of conduct for MPs, which is supposed to limit their work as paid lobbyists and regulate access to ministers.

Surely there must be some accountability as to how this public money is being spent.
They have an 80 seat majority and have no interest in 'codes of conduct'. We are now in a new era of authoritarian indifference to 'rules of the game'. As a party we have to wake up to this new political arrogance and fight it.
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