THE UK Government has been accused of "rampant cronyism" after details published today reportedly reveal a "VIP" fast track for certain firms referred by ministers in order to secure lucrative Covid contracts.

The UK Government previously dismissed reports of a fast track system as “completely false”.

They added: “There was no high priority lane for testing suppliers. All offers of testing went through the same robust assurance checks and there was no separate ‘fast track process’.”

But now emails published between the Department of Health and Social Care and civil servants during a legal challenge by the Good Law Project show exchanges discussing a "VIP route which comes via ministers" and a separate message stated that an official “would like them to go through the VIP route”.

READ MORE: UK Government ministers who referred firms to 'VIP' Covid PPE fast lane to be named

Then health minister, Lord Bethel, was described by officials as a “sponsor” of the Rapid Testing consortium in the emails – a group of companies led by Abingdon Health - which was awarded huge government deals without competitive tender.

One exchange shows a redacted name of a person in authority saying “would like them to go through the VIP route”. They asked: “Who should they name as their sponsor?”

A colleague replied: “Are the sponsors usually ministers? I would imagine RTC can name Lord Bethell?”

The Good Law project says the emails prove that there was a VIP lane for companies favoured by ministers.

The National:

Gemma Abbott, legal director at Good Law Project, told The Guardian: “When evidence last emerged of a VIP lane for testing contracts, government said our claims were ‘completely false’.

“Now our legal action has proved their denial is false – there was a fast track to award lucrative test and trace contracts to firms favoured by ministers.

“Government needs to stop misleading the public and come clean. £37bn has been allocated to test and test contracts. Where has that money gone? We should not need to drag government to court to get an honest account.”

The SNP described the emails as “utterly damning” for the Tories.

The party’s shadow cabinet office spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said: "The handling of multi-billion-pound Covid contracts by Boris Johnson's Tory government has been riddled with rampant cronyism.

"Through the course of this pandemic we have seen eye-watering sums of public money being handed out to Tory friends, contacts and party donors without due process and accountability.

"These latest reports of a 'VIP route' recommended by ministers are utterly damning and highlight once again that it's one rule for the Tory elite and another for everyone else.

READ MORE: Led by Donkeys exposes Tory cronyism in Westminster Parliament clip

"The SNP has been consistently clear that there must be a full public inquiry into the process of Covid contracts.

“Boris Johnson cannot keep avoiding scrutiny over his government's handling of public money.

"The people of Scotland have had enough of the sleaze at the heart of the UK government, the only way we can protect Scotland from the sleaze and cronyism of the Tories is by becoming an independent country."

The UK Government has been approached for comment.