Matt Hancock dismisses questions over Covid contract linked to pub boss
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has rejected claims that he helped a friend obtain a multimillion-pound contract to supply test tubes for NHS Covid testing.
The disgraced former health secretary told Labour “no matter how hard they look or how deep they dig” they will only find “a lot of people working hard to save lives”.
Labour chairwoman Anneliese Dodds had previously called for Mr Hancock to “set the record straight” and withdraw his remark that it was a “fabrication” to suggest his friend and constituent Alex Bourne applied for or received a contract from the government or NHS.
Questions have been repeatedly raised about Mr Hancock’s involvement in helping Mr Bourne, the former landlord of his local pub, get a multimillion-pound contract to supply test tubes for Covid testing.
Following a contested Freedom of Information request, The Mail on Sunday obtained messages between Mr Hancock and Mr Bourne in which he personally referred a plea for business to the director-general of community and social care at the Department of Health.
A message from Mr Bourne, who runs a food packaging company, initially raised the possibility of making PPE, before later exchanges reveal a switch to producing items involved in coronavirus testing.
Ms Dodds told the Commons: “The Good Law Project has published evidence indicating that a company, Alpha Laboratories, won a contract worth over £40 million from the Department of Health and Social Care in December 2020, and that this company appears to have sub-contracted all of the manufacturing of goods to another company, Hinpack Limited, which appears to be run by (Mr Hancock’s) constituent.”
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Mr Hancock replied: “This point of order and the point made in it demonstrates very clearly that there was no contract between the firm being discussed and the department or the NHS.
“Of course, the Department of Health and the NHS does not have a say in sub-contracting arrangements.
“So what this has done is demonstrated finally and for the record that there was no such contract between my constituent and the department or NHS.
“All of this has been looked at by the National Audit Office, who found all to have been done in an orderly way.
“Finally, no matter how hard they look or how deep they dig all that will be discovered is a lot of people working hard to save lives. That’s what was going on.”