Priti Patel was confronted last night with new questions about whether she had violated the ministerial code by lobbying to help her former adviser close multi-million pound PPE deals.
Leaked documents now show that the Home Secretary pressed ministers and officials intervened to donate a £ 28.8 million contract to a company represented by Samir Jassal.
Her second intervention to help Mr Jassal came days after she attempted to negotiate a separate £ 20 million deal for the same company, Pharmaceuticals Direct Limited (PDL) in an alleged ‘blatant’ violation of the Code.
The Daily Mail’s report of that earlier deal this month prompted Labor to refer Ms. Patel to Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.
Priti Patel was faced with new questions last night as to whether she violated the ministerial code by lobbying to help former adviser Samir Jassal (third from right) land millions of pounds of PPE deals
The party put pressure on her yesterday following our revelations about the subsequent intervention of Miss Patel, and promised to write to Mr. Case again.
The documents pertaining to the new contract also reveal how Munira Mirza, head of policy at No10, introduced purchasing officers to the company’s sales chief, Surbjit Shergill, a former bricklayer.
The £ 28.8 million surgical mask deal was awarded to PDL without competition six days after Miss Patel contacted purchasing officials and told them what the company had to offer. At the request of PDL, she also contacted Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on behalf of the company.
And PDL was awarded another no-competition contract for masks worth £ 102.6 million, for which the government paid nearly double its own ‘benchmark’ price.
Mr. Jassal, a Kent town councilor who worked as an unpaid adviser to Miss Patel, took up parliament for the Tories twice, unsuccessfully.
Standing for Feltham in West London in the 2017 general election, Miss Patel campaigned with him. She tweeted a photo of them and wrote that she was ‘delighted’ to join him in the search.
Formerly in real estate, Mr Jassal now describes himself as a ‘partner in healthcare and pharmacy’. He was instrumental in negotiating the contracts for PDL.
Documents pertaining to the new contract also show how No10 policy leader Munira Mirza introduced procurement officers to the company’s sales chief
As Secretary of the Interior, Miss Patel has no official role in purchasing health care. Neither PDL nor its owner, Bemal Patel, have any connection with its Essex constituency, and Mr Patel is not related to the Home Secretary.
Last night, Miss Patel insisted that she had done nothing wrong, and her spokesperson described the claims she made as “false.”
Minister Angela Rayner of the Shadow Cabinet Office wrote to Mr. Case earlier this month about the Mail’s initial report and demanded that he investigate whether Miss Patel was in violation of the Code. On that occasion she suggested that Miss Patel had been involved in “a blatant and blatant violation of the ministerial code.”
Mrs. Rayner has now said she will write to him again. She told the Mail: ‘These allegations cannot be brushed under the rug.
“The cabinet secretary should investigate, and if these revelations are true, the prime minister should refer them to the independent adviser on ministerial interests.”
The Code states that ministers must ‘ensure that no conflict arises or appears to arise between their public duties and their private interests’ and that they’ must not act or make decisions to obtain financial or other material benefits for themselves. acquire. family or their friends’. The PDL lobby began shortly after the initial lockdown, on March 27 last year, when Miss Mirza – who, like Miss Patel, has no official role in the procurement of personal protective equipment – spoke to Mr. Shergill by phone.
Later that day, Chris Stirling, director of medical technology at the Department of Health, sent him an email. In response, Mr. Shergill thanked him for “talking and contacting Munira.” On March 31, Mr. Shergill wrote another letter to Mrs. Mirza. She replied, “Thank you Surbjit, I contacted them and hopefully they will respond.”
Two hours later, Mr. Shergill received an email from Edward Knight, a senior Crown Commercial Service official dealing with the purchase of PPE at the Cabinet Office.
Other established companies with no political connections have repeatedly complained that during this first wave of the crisis, when there was a desperate shortage of PPE, they were unable to attract the attention of officials. In late April, PDL got close to closing its first deal, worth £ 20m, for KN95 masks, but this collapsed as Health Secretary Matt Hancock determined they were ‘not fit’ for the NHS. Mr Jassal then asked Miss Patel for help, and on May 3 last year, she relayed PDL’s complaints to Cabinet Minister Michael Gove.
But the new documents now show that Mr Shergill wrote to Ms Patel on May 14 that ‘as a result of your intervention’ the company ‘was now able to’ offer another product that can help reduce our losses’, IIR masks made by the Chinese manufacturer BYD. He asked to be put in touch with the procurement teams of both the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Transport.
The same day Miss Patel replied, “I understand your frustration with what has happened and also your desire to make new contracts with the government.
“The Cabinet Office is involved in cross-government procurement and I brought your email and the products available to purchase to their attention. I have also forwarded the email to the Secretary of State for Transport for his department to consider. ‘
Six days later, on May 21, PDL was awarded a contract to supply 60 million BYD IIR masks for £ 28.8 million. The price was 12.5 percent above the government recommended benchmark, which was based on market conditions.
This first successful deal paved the way for the company’s second, larger FFP3 mask contract, awarded for £ 102.6 million on July 4.
The newly leaked documents will now certainly play a role in a Supreme Court judicial review of both PDL-won contracts instituted by the Good Law Project.
The executive director, Jolyon Maugham QC, said: ‘Before this entire pandemic, the government’s line has been that ministers were not involved in procurement decisions. These leaked emails expose that line as fiction.
“Indeed, they suggest that not only were ministers involved, but that they may have guided those decisions.”
A spokesperson for Ms. Patel said: “These allegations of improper intervention in the procurement process are false. The Minister of the Interior has rightly followed up on the comments submitted to her on the essential supply of personal protective equipment. In a time of national crisis, this failure would have been a dereliction of duty. Ministers are not involved in the tendering process. ‘
PDL did not respond to requests for comment, but has previously said it has fully complied with its contractual obligations. Mr. Jassal and Bemal Patel did not respond to requests for comment.