UK government rejects charge of 'chumocracy' in PPE deals

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the weekly question-time debate at the House of Commons in London, Britain, November 11, 2020. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain hit back against a spending watchdog’s claims that personal protective equipment suppliers with political links had been fast-tracked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government said it “completely rejected” the claim that there were any ministerial conflicts of interest in the procurement process, and it was not true to say rules had been “ripped up”.

The National Audit Office on Wednesday said there had been a lack of transparency and a failure to explain why certain suppliers were chosen, or how any conflict of interest was dealt with, in procurement deals between March and the end of July worth 18 billion pounds.

Reporting by Kate Holton, Writing by Paul Sandle. Editing by Andrew MacAskill