Priti Patel has been accused of a “glaring and flagrant” breach of the Ministerial Code, after it emerged she lobbied a fellow minister on behalf of a healthcare firm trying to secure a £20 million PPE deal.
Labour demanded an inquiry by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case into Patel’s actions, just months after Boris Johnson kept her in post despite an investigation finding she broke the code by bullying staff.
An investigation by the Daily Mail revealed that the home secretary lobbied Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, in April last year over a £20 million contract for surgical masks for Pharmaceuticals Direct Ltd (PDL), after an approach by her former adviser Samir Jassal.
Her efforts failed after Matt Hancock, the health secretary, decided the masks were “not suitable for the NHS”. But, weeks later, the firm was awarded a no-bid, no-competition deal worth £102.6 million to supply a better type of mask.
Patel reportedly made no declaration about Jassal’s approach, and did not mention her links to PDL.
Jassal, a two-time Conservative parliamentary candidate and local councillor in Kent, played a key role in negotiating the lucrative deal – with the masks prices at twice the Government’s “benchmark” rate.
Ad The Good Law Project is now highlighting the deal in a High Court judicial review – with Patel’s role certain to come under scrutiny.
Dominic Grieve, the former Tory attorney general, told the Mail: “This is quite astonishing. This Government seems to have no idea of the basics of propriety in procurement.”