Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Alun Cairns ends role with company handed millions of pounds worth of NHS contracts without competition

16 Feb 2022 3 minutes Read
Alun Cairns. Picture by Cabinet Office (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A controversial consultancy role held by Welsh Conservative MP Alun Cairns with a company handed millions of pounds worth of NHS contracts without competition has come to an end.

Nation.Cymru revealed in July 2020 that the Vale of Glamorgan MP had started a £15,000-a-year second job giving “strategic advice” to the BBI Group, a south Wales company producing Covid tests.

It was branded “cronyism” by his former Welsh Conservative colleague Antoinette Sandbach and both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called for an investigation into contracts handed to the company.

A consortium including the BBI Group was directly awarded a contract worth £75 million by the UK Government the following month. The BBI Group and its subsidiaries have also been directly awarded at least three more NHS contracts worth almost £200,000 since then.

The updated register of MPs’ interests released today shows Cairns parted ways with the company on January 31, having earned £23,750 over 19 months in the role to which he gave up to 70 hours a year.

‘Significant questions’

Alun Cairns’ appointment to the role was approved by the UK Government’s anti-corruption watchdog Acoba, albeit on the condition of a two-year lobbying ban for Cairns, and there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the MP or the BBI Group.

But Cairns’ break with the company comes amid renewed scrutiny over the UK Government’s operation of a so-called ‘VIP Lane’ for Covid-related contracts.

The Good Law Project has this week revealed leaked emails which they say show PPE suppliers were given “VIP treatment” by the UK Government and won a High Court ruling that the appointment of the UK Government’s test and trace tsar was unlawful.

The Good Law Project is also seeking a judicial review of the way contracts were awarded to the consortium involving the BBI Group.

Labour has called on the UK Government to release any communications with MPs, including Cairns, related to any Covid contracts, with shadow cabinet office minister Fleur Anderson saying: “There are significant questions to answer regarding how these companies and MPs relate to government Ministers and government policy”.  

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds has also called for an investigation into how the contracts involving the BBI Group were awarded“Public money should always go to the best companies, not those with friends in high places or who can afford to pay a Conservative MP for exclusive access,” she said.

Motion

Cairns still has two other jobs outside Westminster from which he earns £45,000 a year and which have also attracted controversy.

Unlock Democracy said the Vale of Glamorgan MP was “walking a tightrope” after becoming vice-chair of the Westminster interest group for the taxi industry months after becoming a paid adviser to a major taxi company, Veezu.

He is also an adviser to the Singapore-based global property investment firm, Elite Partners Capital. A freedom of information request revealed last month that he had previously given advice to the company on securing investment as part of the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal while a member of the Cabinet.

In November, Cairns voted against a Labour motion in the Commons which called for MPs to be “banned from any paid work to provide services as a Parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant” as suggested by the Committee on Standards in Public Life. 


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

6 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cynan
Cynan
3 months ago

Never let it be said that Alun Cairns is not swift to act. He was informed the role was unsuitable given his parliamentary position at the Senedd and 19 months later bam! He has vacated it! It is this sort of fast action which makes the Tories the force they are in Cymru

GWYN ROBERTS
GWYN ROBERTS
3 months ago

+3000% return on investment!

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
3 months ago

I’ve got one job, which to do properly takes up virtually all of my time. For Alun Cairns to have a job in Westminster and two other jobs outside, begs the question is he doing any of them properly?

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
3 months ago

Timely, as the opportunities to exploit the COVID pandemic contracts wheeze are drying up.

Last edited 3 months ago by Cai Wogan Jones
Ieuan Evans
Ieuan Evans
3 months ago

One of the most inept Secretary of State that Wales has ever had. He constantly belittles any Welsh achievements and never replies to emails..

Quornby
Quornby
3 months ago

He’s sly though…… Notice that his grovelling POW name on the 2nd crossing is about 50 metres out of range of a paintbrush. Yuk!

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.