Hancock defends helping ex-minister secure contract for 90million goggles
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has defended his role in helping a former Conservative minister secure a Covid-19 contract worth millions of pounds.
The Conservative, who has represented the constituency since 2010, said it was "perfectly reasonable" for him to send on a proposal from Brooks Newmark to officials in his role as health secretary.
It resulted in Mr Newmark, who quit as a minister in 2014, winning a contract to supply 90million protective goggles for NHS workers.
According to the Sunday Times, Mr Newmark first emailed Mr Hancock on May 27 last year, attaching a detailed proposal - saying he had links to a “well connected and powerful” person in China but needed government help in accelerating deals.
Critics have accused the government of “cronyism” and giving “VIP treatment” to those with links to the Conservative Party during the pandemic.
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But asked about it on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hancock said: “Yes it was absolutely appropriate for people to get in contact with anybody at the Department of Health when the country desperately needed PPE and I sent this contact straight on to the PPE team and they looked at it.
“I don’t have anything to do with the award of contracts.”
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Questioned if Mr Newmark received special treatment, Mr Hancock replied: “No, I just pinged it on.
“What I can tell you is that we had a process in place to ensure that when there were opportunities to get hold of PPE, to save lives on the frontline, that they were looked at rapidly – and in this case, we ended up with 90million goggles for people in the NHS as a result of this approach.
"This process for making sure that when there were high-quality offers that they could be taken up rapidly, that process was open to everybody and many, many people came through that process.
“And the result was that we saved lives on the frontline and at no point did we have a national outage of PPE and I’m incredibly proud of my team that pulled that off.
“But of course when somebody approaches the health secretary in the middle of a pandemic when you’re desperately short of PPE, it’s perfectly reasonable for the health secretary to send on the email and say can we have a look at this, and then I didn’t have anything to do with the signing of any of these contracts.”