Hancock under fire from Labour leadership over claims of jobs for friends

West Suffolk MP and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has come under fire after a constituent won a contract from his...

West Suffolk MP and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has come under fire after a constituent won a contract from his department. Picture: PA IMAGES - Credit: PA

Health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has come under fire from deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner over reports a constituent gained a lucrative contract to supply health equipment at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the early months of the coronavirus crisis, Mr Hancock is understood to have been contacted by constituent Alex Bourne - who runs Hinpack, a company which makes packaging for the catering industry - offering to make medical supplies.

Reports in The Guardian newspaper say Mr Bourne contacted Mr Hancock by WhatsApp after getting to know him when Mr Hancock attended the reopening of a pub he ran at the time in Thurlow, near Haverhill.

After the contact was made, Mr Bourne’s company did win a contract to provide medical vials and plastic funnels, which are used in testing kits.

This has led to allegations of a “chumocracy”, with friends and acquaintances of ministers winning government jobs or contracts.

This newspaper contacted Mr Bourne’s address and were told our messages would be passed on to him, but we received no reply.

Mr Bourne had told The Guardian that he was not a friend of Mr Hancock, they had not been to each other’s homes and he had never had a drink with him.

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However, he said Mr Hancock had been a supporter of the village pub he had run.

This newspaper also contacted Mr Hancock’s constituency office – but only received a reply telling us our e-mail had been received.

The Department of Health and Social Care press office said a statement was being prepared at 10.30am, but nothing had been received as of Friday evening.

Ms Rayner said of the allegations about this deal: “The government is making a mockery of the sacrifices that the British people have made and taking the public for fools.

“It is clear that friends of cabinet ministers with no experience or expertise are lining their pockets during this crisis, whilst our key workers are having their pay frozen and our care workers are not even being paid a living wage.

“It is a disgrace and the government needs to stop putting the profits of their mates ahead of the lives and livelihoods of the British people.”

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