Last week we were pleased to be granted permission from the court to bring our challenge with EveryDoctor against the Government’s decision to award PPE contracts to Pestfix (a pest control company), Ayanda (an opaque private fund owned through a tax haven) and Clandeboye (a confectionery wholesaler).
The Court gave us permission on some – but not all – of our grounds of complaint. However, extraordinary new evidence has emerged since we issued proceedings in both the NAO investigation into procurement and a trove of emails uncovered between Government and the Health and Safety Executive. And for these, amongst other reasons, we asked for a short oral hearing to make a renewed case on the rejected grounds. The hearing takes place tomorrow.
The leaked correspondence between HSE and Government on the Pestfix contract is particularly troubling. It shows that the HSE was placed under enormous pressure by Government to authorise the use of Pestfix PPE which the HSE had decided should not be released into the supply chain. It shows that HSE had grave concerns about the authenticity of the documents Pestfix had supplied. It shows that Government was “bombarding [it] with calls on this issue” and “requesting statements to the effect that HSE assessed the products and they were compliant – not factually correct.” And it shows that Pestfix was writing saying that “we do not want it to be made public-knowledge that PPE from PestFix has not passed HSE inspection.”
Days later, in formal pre-action correspondence, Pestfix said: “There have been no recalls, complaints or incidents bringing into question the fitness for purpose of the products supplied under the contract.” And Government said: “There was and is no question of PestFix supplying PPE which is not appropriate for the use to which it will be put.”
Unlike the Government, we are committed to transparency. We are publishing in full our Skeleton Argument for the hearing and the witness statement made by our Director Jolyon Maugham QC, setting out chapter and verse of our allegations.
We will publish the outcome of the hearing as soon as we have it. This may be some days after the hearing has concluded.
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I wonder what the outcome will be or is? They have a good case.