The National:

A STUNNING New York Times analysis into how the UK Government has spent money during the coronavirus pandemic has prompted one key question from readers.

Why is the UK media not doing this?

Besides a few notable exceptions, the money spent by the Tory Government in procuring PPE, coronavirus tests, ventilators and other critical supplies has failed to garner widespread media attention.

In an article headlined “Waste, Negligence and Cronyism: Inside Britain’s Pandemic Spending”, the US newspaper analyses about 1200 government contracts which have been made public and are worth close to $22 billion overall.

It found that roughly $11bn of that money went to companies “run by friends and associates of politicians in the Conservative Party, or with no prior experience or a history of controversy”.

Smaller firms with no political clout “got nowhere”, it added.

READ MORE: UK Government under fire for 'fast-track VIP lane' for Covid-19 contracts

The article condemns the UK Government’s “cobbled together” procurement system, which featured a “secretive VIP lane” to firms with links to the Tory Party.

With more than half of the contracts awarded in the first seven months of the pandemic still not public, the reporters revealed that:

  • About half of the $22bn of contracts went to firms with “political connections, no prior experience or histories of controversy”
  • About $5bn “went to politically connected companies” with some having former ministers, advisers or party donors on staff
  • About $6bn “went to companies that had no prior experience” in supplying PPE, including fashion designers and jewellers
  • About $5bn went to companies with controversial histories “from tax evasion and fraud to corruption and human rights abuses”

The companies referred to throughout the article have denied wrongdoing, while there is no evidence to suggest government officials were engaged in illegal conduct.

The reporters say while some of the “cronyism, waste and poor due diligence” has been documented in the UK media the problem is bigger than previously understood.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said “proper due diligence” was carried out for all contracts and they “take these checks extremely seriously”.

READ MORE: UK Cabinet Office contacts and 'VIPs' handed bumper PPE deals, leak reveals

It comes after a damning report from the National Audit Office found that during the procurement process some firms were referred by officials, ministers’ offices, members of the Lord, MPs and health professionals through a “high-priority” lane.

The NAO said in some circumstances they found a “lack of documentation around key procurement decisions such as why particular suppliers were chosen”.

Why isn’t this bigger news? The simple answer is the British media backs the Tories.

These kinds of stories should not have to come from American news organisations.

The fact they do shows how broken the UK is.