Priti Patel will face Commons over £20m PPE storm: Home Secretary is to be quizzed over claims she broke Ministerial Code in lobbying row
- Priti Patel wrote to Michael Gove urging him to finalise PPE contract with a firm
- Pharmaceuticals Direct Ltd was represented by her former adviser Samir Jassal
- Deal was not finalised as Matt Hancock said items were ‘not suitable’ for the NHS
- But firm later won a no-competition £102.6million contract for better quality PPE
- Labour have now placed an Urgent Question in Commons requiring Ms Patel to explain her actions
Priti Patel will be challenged in the Commons over claims she broke the Ministerial Code by lobbying to secure a £20million PPE deal for a firm represented by a friend.
On Saturday the Daily Mail revealed that the Home Secretary wrote to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove in April last year urging him to finalise a contract for surgical masks from Pharmaceuticals Direct Ltd (PDL).
She had been asked to intervene by her former adviser Samir Jassal, a Kent Tory councillor and former parliamentary candidate.
The deal was not finalised after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the masks were ‘not suitable’ for the NHS.
Priti Patel will be challenged in the Commons over claims she broke the Ministerial Code by lobbying to secure a £20million PPE deal for a firm represented by a friend
But weeks later, PDL was awarded a no-competition contract worth £102.6million for better quality masks following negotiations between the Government and Mr Jassal.
Senior civil servants wrote emails expressing their concern that these masks were costing the taxpayer almost double the going ‘benchmark’ price.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner and shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds have already demanded an inquiry by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, describing the disclosures as a ‘glaring and flagrant’ breach.
Now Mr Thomas-Symonds is set to put down an Urgent Question, which would require Miss Patel to give a full account to MPs.
The Mail revealed that the Home Secretary wrote to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove in April last year urging him to finalise a contract for surgical masks from Pharmaceuticals Direct Ltd, after being asked to intervene by her former adviser Samir Jassal (circled), a Kent Tory councillor and former parliamentary candidate
Miss Patel insists she has done nothing wrong. Her spokesman said that not passing on Mr Jassal’s representations would have been a ‘dereliction of duty’ at ‘a time of national crisis’.
The PDL deal is also being challenged in a High Court judicial review by the Good Law Project.
Yesterday its executive director, Jolyon Maugham QC, said: ‘We need to know: Who is this man Jassal – and why is the Home Secretary using her position to push his commercial interests? Something feels very wrong indeed.’
Labour is also planning to question Mr Hancock about why he recommended a PPE bid from a friend who brokered a deal to sell goggles worth £180million.
Former Tory minister Brooks Newmark had teamed up with the owner of a dog food company who had set up a firm to broker PPE deals for international suppliers.
He resigned from government in 2014 after sending sexually explicit photos to an undercover male journalist he thought was a female party activist.
Yesterday Mr Hancock told the Andrew Marr Show that it was ‘absolutely appropriate’ for Mr Newmark to contact him and for him to recommend his bid.
He added that it was an ‘excellent proposal’ but said all he did was ‘ping it on’.
In a separate development, Boris Johnson’s long-time aide Lord Udny-Lister apologised for approving a £187million loan to property developer Delancey – where he was a paid adviser.
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