Tuesday 16 November 2021 / 11:54 AM Angela Rayner / Coronavirus

Michael Gove helped his personal donor David Meller get contracts worth almost £50 million

It has today been revealed that Minister Michael Gove – when serving as the Cabinet Office Minister in charge of the government’s procurement policy and ensuring that all contracts are awarded “based on value for money… achieved through competition” – referred his personal friend, donor and beauty company owner David Meller to the government’s fast-track VIP lane for friends and donors of the Conservative Party to get PPE contracts at the height of the pandemic.

A leaked list of 47 firms that won contracts via the VIP fast-track system after being referred by Conservative Ministers and MPs shows that it was Gove who referred Meller’s firm, which was subsequently awarded contracts worth almost £50 million, despite the fact that it is a company that supplies beauty products to high street retailers.

Mr Meller helped to run Michael Gove’s leadership campaign in 2016 and donated £3,000 to Michael Gove personally. Mr Meller has also donated £60,000 to the Conservative Party. In total he was awarded £164 million in contracts after he took part in a call with Lord Bethell and Lord Feldman, a former Conservative Chairman and lobbyist who was brought in to government to work on contracts, and discussed PPE with Gove and Gove’s office. The Cabinet Office has blocked the release of the messages that were exchanged between Gove and Meller.

Mr Meller was the chairman of the President’s Club, a fundraising group that was shut down after an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment at its event in 2018 which was attended by prominent Conservatives. Gove had previously appointed Meller as a Non-Executive Director at the Department for Education and Meller resigned from this post following the investigation.

Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said:

“It shows just how engulfed in corruption this government is that the Minister in charge of procurement and ensuring that contracts are awarded to the best bidder and represent value for money for the taxpayer was helping his own donor to get VIP fast-track access to contracts.

“Michael Gove stood up in Parliament and said that all contracts were awarded through the same process. He must have known that wasn’t true when he said it because he had already helped his mate gets tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

“It is time this corrupt government published the full details of every PPE and testing contract awarded to companies with links to the Conservative Party, Conservative Ministers and Conservative MPs so we can get to the bottom of the lobbying, dodgy deals and special favours that have been done using taxpayers’ money like a get-rich-quick scheme for Conservative donors and mates.”