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Vaughan Gething donor landed £1.8m PPE contract

22 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Vaughan Gething (L) visiting BCB in July 2020

Martin Shipton

Vaughan Gething has denied having any involvement in the awarding of a £1.8m PPE contract during the Covid pandemic to a company that has made a donation to his leadership campaign.

Now the Economy Minister, Mr Gething was Health Minister at the time the contract was awarded to BCB International Ltd, which is based in his Cardiff South and Penarth constituency and which he has visited in his Ministerial capacity.

News that he has received money from BCB, whose core business involves the supply of outdoor survival gear, follows the revelation that David Neal, the director of Dauson Environmental Ltd, which has donated £200,000 to Mr Gething’s campaign, received a suspended prison sentence for dumping waste at a conservation site in the Gwent Levels near Newport.

The donation from BCB is far smaller at £1,000, but has added to concerns about the source of Mr Gething’s campaign funds.

A Welsh Labour insider said: “On the eve of the Covid Inquiry coming to Wales, why does Vaughan think it’s OK to take a donation from a PPE supplier? This isn’t about simply stating you have declared the relevant interest, Vaughan Gething wants to hold Wales’ highest office. The ordinary voters of Wales want to know the answer to the question, what are these donors expecting in return?

“Do Welsh Labour provide any scrutiny of where money is flowing in from or is any donor deemed suitable? Most members of Welsh Labour will feel very uncomfortable about what is happening.”

A spokesperson for Vaughan Gething’s campaign said: “BCB International has made a donation of £1,000 to Vaughan Gething’s leadership campaign. This donation has been declared to the Senedd in line with the rules and Vaughan’s commitment to transparency.

“Vaughan did not make decisions on individual contracts awarded to BCB International or any other company during the pandemic.

“BCB International made a positive contribution to help keep people safe during our national response to the Covid pandemic.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Personal Protective Equipment and clothing is purchased by the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership on behalf of NHS Wales organisations. Welsh Government Ministers are not and were not involved in procurement of PPE equipment.”

Procurement Policy

A report released by Audit Wales in 2021 stated: “In March 2020 the Welsh Government chose to adopt the UK Cabinet Office’s Procurement Policy Note 01/2010. The policy note permits, under regulation 32(2)(c) of the Public Contract Regulations 2015, procurement of goods, services and works without competition or advertising so long as there are genuine reasons for extreme urgency. This meant Welsh public services were able to procure PPE without going through the usual competitive processes.”

Property fraud

Meanwhile four people associated with a company that donated a total of £21,200 to Mr Gething’s earlier leadership campaign in 2018, when he stood unsuccessfully against current First Minister Mark Drakeford, have been arrested as part of a £140m property fraud inquiry.

The Times reported: “Fraud investigators conducted raids yesterday morning [February 21] into the collapse of a property investment group that owns historic buildings across the country. Four people were arrested and are being questioned by Serious Fraud Office (SFO) officials investigating the Signature Group investment business. More than 1,000 investors ploughed at least £140m into the Liverpool-based group.

“It had 21 developments including the Shankly and Dixie Dean hotels in Liverpool, the George Best hotel and Crumlin Road courthouse in Belfast, and the Exchange Hotel in Cardiff’s former Coal Exchange building.

“The group operated for more than seven years, buying up predominantly historic buildings for redevelopment into luxury hotels, flats and offices. Investors lent money to Signature or bought a hotel room, apartment or office space in one of the group’s properties, with promised returns of between 8% and 15%. Lawrence Kenwright, 58, the founder, and his wife Katie, 46, were declared bankrupt last month.

“Nick Ephgrave, director of the SFO, said: ‘We have people up and down the country left out of pocket, and buildings left derelict at the centre of our cities. This is now an active criminal investigation.’ “

When the company took over the Coal Exchange, Mr Kenwright tweeted: “Vaughan Gething is why we came to Cardiff to bring the Exchange Hotel back to life – a building which had been laying derelict for years. It was @vaughangething who cleared the path for us, even though it was not part of his remit – he did it due to it being the right thing to do.”

On September 8 2018 Signature Living donated £10k in cash to Mr Gething’s campaign, together with a non-cash donation worth £1,200. On September 28 2018 Signature Living made a further cash donation of £10k to the campaign.

Concerned

A spokesperson for Vaughan Gething’s campaign said: “We are deeply concerned to hear of the serious allegations against and investigation into Signature Living. Like so many people in Cardiff in 2018, Vaughan was hopeful at the prospect of Signature Living’s vision for a revived Coal Exchange and the contribution it could make to the city.

“He accepted the donation in good faith, declared it in line with the rules, and was deeply disappointed by the project’s eventual failure. The SFO should be allowed to continue and conclude their investigation.”

 


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Dai
Dai
4 months ago

Please can this guy not win 🤞 bad enough he’d be UK labour’s puppet let alone all the dodgy deals

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

Cymru north and south was being flooded by chancers in suits from Cheshire and elsewhere at this time. That this has been going on in the South is obvious…

David
David
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

So, VG is as honourable as Boris Johnson.

hdavies15
hdavies15
4 months ago
Reply to  David

Cut from same cloth just a different shade …..

Richard
Richard
4 months ago

Oh gosh ! Lucky theres no Welsh Covid Inquiry 😓

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

The Photo would make a great Floyd album cover,…

Bodies disposed of…

the back door of the Senedd…

The Bay Mob…

Not a good PR look…

Ted rogers
Ted rogers
4 months ago

Labour all over

John Davies
John Davies
4 months ago

Made a mess of Health minister, then went very quiet for a year or so waiting for this leadership chance to come. He’s a disaster waiting to happen.

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