A businessman who won £276m in PPE contracts has defended his work during the coronavirus pandemic after he purchased properties in Devon and Cornwall.
Howard Lloyd www.devonlive.com
Businessman Steve Dechan is the owner of Gloucestershire-based Platform-14, which specialises in medical devices for people with chronic pain.
A national newspaper has reported that despite the company making a loss of close to £500,000 last year, he was awarded a £120m contract to supply masks in March, followed one in June worth £156m to supply gowns and masks.
According to the Sunday Times, Mr Dechan has bought a £250,000 holiday home in Cornwall and a £50,000 house for his parents in Exeter to add to his £1.5 million, grade II listed property in the Cotswolds.
It was also reported that he paid himself £500,000.
Mr Dechan, a former Conservative councillor on Stroud Town Council, denied he had benefited from his political affiliations, insisting that it was done ‘on merit’.
Steve Dechan (Image: Gloucestershire Live)
It has been reported there was not a competitive tender for either of the contracts awarded to his company.
In a series of exchanges on Twitter, Mr Dechan claimed: “What businessman delivers ahead of schedule, Below budget on contracts he has been doing for 8 years. makes money, pays his taxes in U.K & creates more jobs, pays his team bonuses and didn’t cheat.”
A National Audit Office report revealed that the Government had established a fast-track VIP lane to purchase billions of pounds of PPE from little-known companies with political contacts in the Conservative party.
Roughly one in 10 suppliers processed through the VIP channel – 47 out of 493 – obtained lucrative PPE contracts, compared to less than one-in-a-hundred suppliers that came through the ordinary lane.
Mr Dechan told Stroud News that his company had not benefited from this.
“We had no VIP or fast track. No help,” he claimed.
“It was done on merit, great price, great PPE delivered in amazing time.
“How many front line workers did we protect? Answer: hundreds of thousands.
“We didn’t and still don’t know if it was a competitive tender or not, we still assume it was. That’s a question for the buyers.”
He also told the Sunday Times that he had done ‘very, very well out of the pandemic’, but defended the work he had done to battle Covid-19, saying that the PPE he had delivered helped ‘millions of people in pain’.
Mr Dechan was contacted through his company Platform-14 for comment but did not respond to DevonLive and CornwallLive’s enquiries.