The UK Government’s use of a so-called “VIP lane” to award millions of pounds’ worth of contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) to two companies was unlawful, the High Court has ruled.
The Good Law Project and EveryDoctor took legal action over nearly £600 million of contracts awarded to pest control business PestFix and hedge fund Ayanda Capital at the height of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The High Court was told a VIP lane was reserved for referrals from MPs, ministers and senior officials, with the campaigners arguing the Government “prioritised suppliers including PestFix and Ayanda because of who they knew, not what they could deliver”.
In a judgment today, Mrs Justice O’Farrell said the use of the VIP lane was unlawful.
However, she found both of the companies’ offers “justified priority treatment on its merits” and were “very likely” to have been awarded contracts even without the VIP lane.
“Even if PestFix and Ayanda had not been allocated to the high priority lane, nevertheless they would have been treated as priority offers because of the substantial volumes of PPE they could supply that were urgently needed,” the judge said.