UK government’s ‘VIP lane’ for corona contracts was illegal
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LONDON (dpa-AFX) – The British government wrongly preferred two companies when awarding contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds for corona protective clothing. The London High Court ruled Wednesday that a Health Department “VIP lane” was illegal at the start of the spring 2020 pandemic. The ministry gave priority to recommendations from MPs, cabinet members and senior officials. The decision is considered another setback against Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is heavily criticized for alleged parties in his official residence during the corona lockdown.
Two anti-corruption organizations had complained that the suppliers were preferred “because they knew someone and not because of what they could deliver”. The ministry had defended the procedure: At the time, every second mattered, the “VIP lane” had led to numerous reliable offers.
The judge now called the prioritization “illegal”. At the same time, she admitted that the offers of the two companies “basically justified preferential treatment” and “very likely” would have been successful anyway.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the government has been suspected of having awarded several high-value supply contracts to friends, relatives and generous donors from the Conservative Party, including for protective clothing
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