THE UK Government has handed more than £1 billion of contracts to companies run by Conservative “friends and donors” since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Analysis by the Mirror newspaper revealed the contracts cover PPE provision, polling and testing, as well as the heavily criticised Serco-run Test and Trace system.

Some contracts were given to firms under emergency procedures, in which there is no need for competition between companies for the work.

While there is no suggestion of wrongdoing, the Good Law Project is looking into the UK’s provision of contracts to “allies” without a competitive tender.

The project’s director, Jo Maugham QC, said: “The way government chose to place these contracts threw open the doors to the politically well connected. And boy, did they take advantage.

“While tens of thousands of families mourn loved ones, in the Carlton Club the lucky few will be toasting the Government with vintage champagne, paid for with our money.”

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Some of the firms include PA Consulting Services Ltd, a consulting firm given three government contracts. Sir Merrick Cockell, the former Conservative leader of Kensington and Chelsea council, has been a senior adviser for six years. There is no suggestion he played any role in securing government contracts.

Meller Designs was given four government contracts to provide hand sanitiser and face masks – the firm is co-owned by David Meller, who has given £65,000 to the Tories over 10 years. Meller, whose company usually supplies home and beauty products, said he was “ proud” of their work during the pandemic.

Hanbury Strategy was given three contracts totalling £819,000 for polling, focus groups and strategy for the Cabinet Office and Treasury. Paul Stephenson, a former Tory adviser and Dominic Cummings ally, set up the company. The firm said it is “proud” of its work during the crisis.

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Public First was given £1 million in contracts for public opinion surveys and strategic advice. The firm is owned by James Frayne, also a close ally of Cummings, who has worked for Michael Gove. His wife is Rachel Wolf, a co-writer of the Tories’ 2019 manifesto.

Manufacturing firm PPE Medpro Ltd won two contracts worth £203m seven weeks after it was set up by Anthony Page – a former secretary of the firm that provides branding services to Tory peer Baroness Mone’s company.

Page is also a director of a finance firm founded by Mone’s fiancé. Mone has said she and her fiancé had no involvement in PPE Medpro, while Page says the company went through a vigorous vetting procedure.

And P14 Medical, run by a former Tory councillor, was given contracts worth £276m for face shields. Director Steve Dechan said he had only met MPs and ministers while campaigning and PPE had never been discussed.

Labour's Rachel Reeves, who analysed the contracts, told the newspaper: “It is outrageous that so much public money is being siphoned to Tory friends and donors. We need to know who agreed these contracts, when and why.”

The Department of Health said: “We have processes for carrying out proper due diligence for all government contracts and we take these checks extremely seriously.”