Business Secretary reacts to spending watchdog's Covid PPE report

18 November 2020, 11:00

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Business Secretary Alok Sharma told LBC that awards of Covid-PPE contracts were "not given by individual Ministers."

He denied there were any "murky deals" going on when challenged by LBC's Nick Ferrari.

But he did tell LBC that the Government had worked "incredibly hard" to get Personal Protective Equipment for those on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus.

When Nick asked the Minister if he recognised the "cronyism" which was reported by newspapers the Minister denied and pointed to the NAO report.

his comments came as a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) criticised a lack of transparency about the way emergency procedures were used to secure supplies and services in early 2020.

The NAO report identified failures to properly document where referrals to the fast-track lane had come from and it also criticised the Government for not publishing details of all contracts in a timely manner.

The Business Secretary's words come following comments by a senior MP who said the Government "ripped up the rules" by offering "special treatment" for firms recommended by ministers and politicians who could offer supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the Commons spending watchdog the Public Accounts Committee, said she was "appalled" by the creation of a "fast track VIP lane" as the Government sought to find supplies of masks, gloves, aprons and other PPE as the pandemic hit in the spring.