Shona Dunn, second permanent secretary at the Department of Health, today told MPs on the Public Accounts Committee that Randox did not benefit from its association with Mr Paterson
Share this @internewscast.com


Testing giant Randox gained ‘no benefit’ from former MP Owen Paterson lobbying ministers to use its Covid swabs, a Government official said today.

Mr Paterson urged former Health Secretary Matt Hancock to take up an offer from Randox, which paid him more than £8,000 per month for 16 hours work, to produce virus tests for the UK. 

A week into the country’s first lockdown, the firm secured a £133million contract to produce the test without a competitive bidding process. 

By February 2022, the company had been awarded £600million.

But Shona Dunn, second permanent secretary at the Department of Health, today told MPs on the Public Accounts Committee that Randox did not benefit from its association with Mr Paterson.

Her comments were in response to a question from Labour’s Nick Smith, who asked whether Mr Paterson ‘gamed the system’ to the advantage of Randox. 

Ms Dunn said: ‘I don’t believe from any of the documentation I’ve seen that Randox gained any benefit from their direct engagement via Mr Paterson or any other route with anyone.’

Shona Dunn, second permanent secretary at the Department of Health, today told MPs on the Public Accounts Committee that Randox did not benefit from its association with Mr Paterson

Shona Dunn, second permanent secretary at the Department of Health, today told MPs on the Public Accounts Committee that Randox did not benefit from its association with Mr Paterson

Mr Paterson resigned from the Commons in November last year, after he was found to have lobbied - against parliamentary rules - on behalf of Randox, a health firm for which he was a paid consultant

Mr Paterson resigned from the Commons in November last year, after he was found to have lobbied – against parliamentary rules – on behalf of Randox, a health firm for which he was a paid consultant

Messages between the pair were subsequently released in February. They showed Mr Paterson sent a series of texts to Mr Hancock between January and September 2020, calling for Randox to be involved in the UK's testing programme

Messages between the pair were subsequently released in February. They showed Mr Paterson sent a series of texts to Mr Hancock between January and September 2020, calling for Randox to be involved in the UK’s testing programme

UK Health Security Agency paying consultants as much as £3,100 per day

The UK Health Security Agency is paying consultants as much as £3,100 per day, it has emerged.

Health bodies have been under the microscope for bringing in expensive consultants throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the number used by the UKHSA has reduced, as of January 31 it was still employing 1,476 management consultants.

The emergence of the Omicron variant of the virus meant that a number of consultants were kept on longer than expected, the UKHSA said.

In a letter to the Public Accounts Committee, the UKHSA said that the majority of these consultants are employed in ‘highly specialised technology and data analytics roles’.

It adds that these consultants are paid anywhere between £706 and £3,100 per day, with the average management consultant earning £1,244 daily.

Quizzed about the figures by MPs on the committee, UKHSA chief executive Dame Dr Jenny Harries said: ‘All of those costs, whilst I know they will feel for many public viewers very high, they are standard contract costs… so we are using all the systems in place to ensure we get the best value for money.’

She told MPs that only 32 per cent of the workforce were in ‘substantive’ civil service contracts, which had posed difficulties in transferring technology used in the pandemic into ‘standard practice’.

Mr Paterson, who had been the MP for North Shropshire since 1997, resigned from the Commons last year after he was found to have lobbied — against parliamentary rules — on behalf of Randox.

The saga prompted a sleaze scandal in Westminster after Boris Johnson’s Government launched a defence of Mr Paterson and tried to save him from a 30-day suspension, only to back down when under considerable pressure. 

Messages between the pair were subsequently released in February.

They showed Mr Paterson sent a series of texts to Mr Hancock between January and September 2020, calling for Randox to be involved in the UK’s testing programme.

The National Audit Office also found there was insufficient documents showing the decision-making around granting Ulster-based Randox a contract.

The NAO, which audits Government departments, said this meant it couldn’t confirm whether the contract was awarded in line with rules. 

But the body noted that it had not seen ‘any evidence’ that contracts were ‘awarded improperly’.

The Public Accounts Committee — which is conducting an inquiry into Government contracts with Randox — today heard evidence from officials at the Department of Health and the UK Health Security Agency.

Ms Dunn denied the company benefitted from Mr Paterson’s lobbying.

But Labour MP Dame Meg Hillier noted Randox bosses met with the Prime Minister and other officials.

She said: ‘Lots of very important people but there are no documents regarding what was discussed at this meeting or any agreements made. So you say that very firmly but you don’t know, do you?’

But Ms Dunn said: ‘Everything we undertook, all the work we undertook in terms of putting contracts in place with providers went through the same process.’

She added: ‘The other reason I say that is because some of those meetings and one chair is a case in point, were attended by a number of different providers.

During the oral evidence session, health chiefs also came under fire for bringing in expensive consultants throughout the pandemic. Dame Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said the agency was employing 1,476 management consultants as of January 31

During the oral evidence session, health chiefs also came under fire for bringing in expensive consultants throughout the pandemic. Dame Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said the agency was employing 1,476 management consultants as of January 31

‘Randox were one of the few companies that were already known to the NHS, already providing some services into the NHS, already had a lab network, already had the capability to be able to respond to the need. 

‘And so it was natural for them to be amongst a number of others in those discussions. 

‘I have certainly seen nothing to suggest that the reason they were at those discussions or the reason the contract was taken forward was because of any undue advantage that they attempted to acquire.’

During the oral evidence session, health chiefs also came under fire for bringing in expensive consultants throughout the pandemic.

Dame Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said the agency was employing 1,476 management consultants as of January 31. 

These consultants are paid between £706 and £3,100 per day, with the average management consultant earning £1,244 daily.

Quizzed about the figures Dr Harries said: ‘All of those costs, whilst I know they will feel for many public viewers very high, they are standard contract costs… so we are using all the systems in place to ensure we get the best value for money.’ 

Share this @internewscast.com