Tuesday, January 18, 2022

UK Court: Government VIP lanes illegal for COVID contracts

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LONDON ( Associated Press) – Britain’s High Court ruled on Wednesday that the government acted illegally when it used so-called “VIP lanes” to award contracts worth millions of pounds to suppliers of personal protective equipment during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. used. 2020.

Two groups took legal action against the Department of Health and Social Care, alleging the use of “high priority lanes”, reserved for referrals from lawmakers and senior officials, gave some suppliers an unfair advantage “because they didn’t know who they knew.” whether they could deliver.”

The contracts include PestFix, a pest control firm valued at more than £340 million ($464 million) and hedge fund Ayanda Capital, valued at about £252 million ($344 million).

On Wednesday, Judge Finola O’Farrell said it was illegal to give preference to both companies as part of VIP Lane. It was clear that “proposals submitted through senior referrals were considered first at the beginning of the process,” she said, although VIP Lane did not provide any advantage at the decision-making stage.

But the judge said that even if the companies had not been allocated for the fast-track lane, their proposals would have been given priority, because of the large amount of protective equipment they could have supplied.

The supply of personal protective equipment such as masks and aprons was severely limited in the UK and elsewhere in the spring of 2020 due to unprecedented growth in demand and disruption of supply chains due to the pandemic.

“No government should ever treat a public health crisis as an opportunity to enrich its partners and donors at public expense,” said Joe Maugham, director of the Good Law Project.

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Follow all Associated Press stories on the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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