VIP lane PPE suppliers were paid a whopping 80% more per unit than other suppliers by the UK Government, an investigation by the Good Law Project has found.

The group says that internal documents from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) revealed some contracts awarded to politically connected suppliers were agreed at more than four times the average unit price.

Countdown star Carol Vordeman, a vocal critic of the Tory Government, also took part in the investigation.

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The cost of contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) during the Covid-19 pandemic has become a national scandal, with Michelle Mone one the key figures under fire for her role in lobbying for contracts for firm PPE Medro, of which she and her family had connections to.

The existence of the VIP lane itself was found to be unlawful by the High Court. 

And now, the Good Law Project says they were passed a spreadsheet giving details of thousands of different PPE contracts agreed in 2020.

They say the majority of VIP lane companies signed at least one contract above the average unit price.

A fashion company owned by David Meller, a longstanding Tory donor who formerly supported Michael Gove’s leadership campaign in 2016, was one such firm that made a profit from pandemic PPE.

The National:

His firm Meller Designs Limited bagged six contracts to make medical protective equipment, such as gowns, worth a whopping £163 million.

Of those six, three were reportedly paid above the odds, between 1.2 and 2.2 times the average unit price.

Medical gowns on average cost £5.87, but Meller Designs charged the UK Government £12.64.

It later emerged that £8.46m of the equipment sold was unsuitable for use in an NHS setting, but the company managed to make £13.2m in post-tax profits for the period ending December 2020.

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The year before it cleared just £143,000 – an increase of around 9000%.

The Good Law Project also revealed that in April 2020, Andrew Mills, an adviser to the Government’s Board of Trade, brokered a deal for Ayanda Capital to supply masks.

Despite having no experience in supplying medical equipment, they secured a contract worth over £252m.

The masks were sold to the UK Government at 1.8 and 2.6 times over the average.

The National:

DHSC has reportedly not contested the figures, but Ayanda Capital says it does not recognise them.

Of the masks sold by the firm, 50m (£145m) were deemed unsuitable for use in an NHS setting.

Jo Maugham, Good Law Project executive director, said: “Instead of focusing on getting legitimate suppliers through the door, ministers were doing the best for their mates – handing out contracts at four times the going rate. And turning up a mountain of duff PPE. And so far we’ve seen zero contrition at the Covid inquiry.

“Recovering the billions wasted and pursuing those who made a fortune while ordinary people suffered is an obvious first step for an incoming administration. We will support a future Government to claw back money from Covid contracts.”

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Meanwhile, Vorderman called on shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves to maintain her vow to appoint a Covid corruption commissioner.

“The profiteering from the pandemic through the VIP Lane, and the government secrecy and denial about it, angers so many of us,” she added.

“When children were using their little 3D printers to help, and others were doing all they could, the attitude of government was astonishing. They have issued no apologies. We aren’t letting it go. If we did, then what have we all become?"

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Susie Flintham, of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign, said she saw first hand the impact of a lack of PPE during the pandemic.

Her father died of Covid in March 2020 having caught the virus in hospital, “I saw with my own eyes that there wasn't enough PPE while my dad was in hospital, and it was my dad who paid the price,” she said.

“These contracts are another example of the government's prioritisation of their own interests over the safety of the public, whilst at the same time tanking the economy and misusing public funds.”