In Brief

Healthcare firm advised by Tory MP handed £133m coronavirus contract ‘unopposed’

Health department agreed deal as part of push to meet 100,000 daily tests target

A healthcare company that employs Conservative MP Owen Paterson as a paid consultant has been awarded a £133m contract to produce coronavirus testing kits without any other firms being invited to bid for the work, according to reports.

Documents seen by The Guardian say that Randox Laboratories was handed the massive contract by the  Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) “without prior publication of a call for competition”.

The deal was agreed under “fast-track” arrangements “that enable public bodies dealing with the pandemic to give contracts to commercial companies” without inviting other tenders, the newspaper adds. 

In the official notice of the contract, the DHSC reportedly said there was no other way of obtaining the urgently needed testing kits and associated services. 

The register of MPs’ financial interests states that Paterson has been a consultant to Randox since August 2015 and is paid “£8,333 a month for a monthly commitment of 16 hours”.

When asked if Paterson had lobbied for the testing kits contract, a government source told The Guardian that the DHSC was “unable to comment on the personnel matters of other organisations”.

Paterson did not respond to a request for comment from the newspaper.

Meanwhile, a statement from Randox pointed out that the company “is only one partner within a multi-partner, national testing programme. The programme is being run and coordinated by the Department of Health and Social Care and they would be best placed to comment on the overall programme.”

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Start your trial subscription today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

News of the contract comes weeks after Buzzfeed revealed that Randox been selling a “rapid Covid-19 home testing kit” online for £120 to consumers and private clinics. Paterson - who was reportedly self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms at the time - declined to comment to the news site on his involvement with the firm.

Documents obtained by The Guardian last year found that Paterson had also held meetings with officials and a government minister asking them to take steps that would benefit Randox and another film that he advises, Lynn’s Country Foods.

Recommended

Is the North-South divide getting worse?
Burnley, UK
Why we’re talking about . . .

Is the North-South divide getting worse?

Next Tory leader odds and polls: the frontrunners to replace Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid
In Depth

Next Tory leader odds and polls: the frontrunners to replace Boris Johnson

How to regain your smell and taste after Covid
Woman smelling lavender
Getting to grips with . . .

How to regain your smell and taste after Covid

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern adjusts her face mask following a press conference
In Depth

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?

Popular articles

Djokovic vs. Nadal vs. Federer: career records and grand slams
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have all won 20 grand slam singles titles
Profile

Djokovic vs. Nadal vs. Federer: career records and grand slams

Why is the UK in pole position to emerge from Covid-19 first?
A woman wearing a face mask waits for the tube in London
Today’s big question

Why is the UK in pole position to emerge from Covid-19 first?

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 16 January 2022
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 16 January 2022

The Week Footer Banner