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Government facing legal challenge over urgent award of £108m PPE contract

The Good Law Project will today launch judicial review proceedings over the Government’s award of an £108m contract to a pest control company for the supply of PPE.

The claimant, a not-for-profit membership organisation set up by Jolyon Maugham QC, said: “Since the start of the pandemic, Government has signed over 100 contracts – worth in total nearly £350m – for the supply of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

“Of that total, around a third (£108m) was tied up in one contract with one company, Crisp Websites Limited (trading as Pestfix). The number of bidders who competed for that contract was one. And the purchase order for this enormous sum of money was issued on 10 April 2020, three days before the contract was concluded.”

The Good Law Project claimed that the contract award raised a number of questions.

It said these included the procedure adopted – awarding a contract without prior publication of a call for competition – only being available where the requisite “extreme urgency” was unforeseeable. “How could the need for PPE have been unforeseeable in April when the EU knew that there was an urgent need for procurement in February?”

The Good Law Project also questioned why Crisp Websites Limited was granted a 12-month contract – and why the contract itself had not yet been published. “Even if there was extreme urgency to secure PPE for April May and June 2020, why was there extreme urgency to secure it for January, February and March 2021?” it asked.

The claimant sent a judicial review pre-action protocol letter on 10 June. It said it would issue short form judicial review proceedings in the High Court today (15 June).

The Department for Health and Social Care said it could not comment on potential or ongoing legal action against it.

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