UK Government acted 'fast and loose' over Covid contracts

The National Audit Office (NAO) said it found no evidence Department of Health contracts had been awarded improperly. And it accepted ministers were acting quickly in exceptional circumstances. But the probe criticised “gaps in the audit trail”, with Labour accusing the Government of acting “fast and loose”.

Between January 2020 and December 2021, a total of 22 contracts were awarded to health company Randox, or its strategic partner, Qnostics Ltd, with a maximum value of £776.9m, according to the report. The NAO said that 60% of the total value of those contracts (£463.5m) was awarded directly without competition, under emergency procurement rules. It found the Department of Health did not not “adequately” document key decisions, nor “fully” disclose ministerial meetings with Randox. Minutes were kept for just two of eight meetings on testing that involved ministers and Randox in 2020 and 2021.

What an odd conclusion from the NAO … :017:

Just last year:

and this year:

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Agreed. Illegal but not improper seems a very mixed message.