A Tory party grandee and former Goldman Sachs executive, who spearheaded the government’s procurement strategies, reportedly awarded millions of pounds in contracts to companies in which he has vested financial interests.
Lord Paul Deighton led the governments troubled efforts to secure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and was credited with creating the “high-priority” lane which was identified in the National Audit Office Report in November 2020.
This ‘VIP lane’ allowed government ministers to awards billions of pounds worth of contracts to companies with connections to the Conservative Party, despite having little or no experience in the field of PPE.
It is estimated that approximately one-in-ten suppliers processed through the high-priority channel (47 out of 493) had received lucrative PPE contracts, compared to less than one in a hundred suppliers who used the traditional method of tender.
A convoluted case study: Pestfix
One particularly damning case was PestFix, a pest control firm located in Littlehampton, Sussex, which was awarded a £350 million contract to supply crucial PPE to the NHS.
The company had net assets of just £18,000 at the time.
As part of the contract, 25 million FFP92 face masks were to be purchased by the government.
After 600,000 of the masks were delivered, however, it became clear that they did not comply with the government published PPE specifications and were deemed unusable.
The NAO reported that Pestfix is still working with the Department of Health to remedy this issue.
Implications for Lord Deighton
According to a New York Times investigation, Lord Deighton “remains involved in business and has financial or personal connections to at least seven companies that were awarded lucrative government contracts”, totalling around £220 million.
Although he had declared this conflict of interest in a public House of Lords register, Lord Deighton’s participation in upper level meetings and strategy discussion remains a matter of concern.
The NYT revealed that two contracts were linked to the Tory peer, both related to PPE.
One contract awarded to Honeywell Safety Products, a subsidiary of Honeywell International, amounted to almost £60 million and is a company in which Lord Deighton currently holds shares.
He is also a shareholder in AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company involved in the late-stage manufacturing of a Coronavirus vaccine, which was also awarded £150 million for testing services.
Lord Deighton also holds shares in the consulting company Accenture, which received over £4 million to develop England’s disastrous contact tracing app.
In addition, UBS, another company in which Lord Deighton has a stake, was given over £560,000.
The wife of Lord Deighton, Lady Alison Deighton, was the former director of NM Rothschild, which was also awarded a prominent consulting contract.
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