- Emails show Matt Hancock sent friend’s plea for business to senior civil servant
- Within weeks friend Alex Bourne had secured a £30m deal to supply test tubes
- Ex Health Secretary as repeatedly insisted he had ‘nothing to do’ with the deal
The messages, obtained after a Freedom of Information battle, reveal the ex-Health Secretary personally referred a plea for business by former pub landlord Alex Bourne to a senior civil servant in the Department of Health.
Matt Hancock is facing fresh scrutiny after The Mail on Sunday obtained bombshell emails contradicting his insistence that he did not help his friend Alex Bourne win a lucrative coronavirus contract
When Mr Hancock was asked about the contract in December, he insisted: ‘I had nothing to do with this contract. I don’t have anything to do with the signing of individual contracts.’
Last night, Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, accused Mr Hancock of misleading the public over the issue.
‘The charge sheet against Matt Hancock grows by the hour,’ he said.
‘These damning emails reveal the beleaguered Health Secretary misled the public over his help for his pub landlord friend winning lucrative public contracts.’
His officials fought tooth and nail to stop us getting bombshell messages
The Department of Health and Social Care battled for months to keep email exchanges between Matt Hancock and his friend a secret – and only caved in when threatened with court action.
The Mail on Sunday submitted a request for information on February 23, asking for copies of emails and WhatsApp messages exchanged by the two men between March and December 2020, as well as the transcripts of any relevant telephone conversations. The DHSC failed to reply to that or a subsequent request for an internal review.
The MoS then complained to Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, who – after reminding officials of their responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act – issued a Decision Notice on June 15 in which she stated that a failure to respond was a breach of the law.
She warned that a failure to respond within 35 calendar days could lead to High Court action for contempt of court. Three days later, the DHSC capitulated.
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