Disgraced duo David Cameron and Matt Hancock face questions over how £123m government contract was awardedAugust 11, 2021
DAVID Cameron is facing new lobbying questions over his involvement in the awarding of a bumper £123m government contract to a company he works for.
He wrote to ex health secretary Matt Hancock just before his employer Illumina was handed the multi-million pound genetic sequencing deal.
The ex PM is already embroiled in a scandal over his role as an adviser to collapsed financial firm Greensill Capital.
Labour said the latest revelations show there is a culture of "rampant cronyism, sleaze, and dodgy lobbying" at the heart of government.
The Times reported that Mr Cameron lobbied the former health secretary to attend a genomics conference organised by Illumina.
Mr Hancock had already received an invitation from the firm's boss weeks earlier, which he had not replied to.
But after receiving the ex PM's note, which urged him to attend the "significant conference", he accepted.
A week after the event, which took place in September 2019, Illumina was handed the contract without competition.
The multi-million pound deal was awarded by Genomics England, which is wholly owned by the Department of Health run by Mr Hancock at the time.
Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner said a culture of lobbying at the highest levels of government is "polluting our democracy".
She fumed: "They hand public money to their mates without a second thought.
"The Government must answer questions about why it awarded such a huge sum of money without competition in the first place.
"Labour will overhaul the current broken system and replace it with an Integrity and Ethics Commission that will stamp out sleaze."
There is rampant cronyism, sleaze and dodgy lobbying that is polluting our democracy
It was also reported that Illumina has been given further contracts with Public Health England, worth up to £870,000.
Those decisions came after Mr Cameron met the vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, in March of this year.
The US-based company provides services that can be used to screen people's DNA for genetically inherited illnesses.
All parties involved denied that any improper lobbying had taken place in the awarding of the contracts.
Mr Cameron insisted that his role at Illumina, where he is a paid adviser, purely involves promoting the benefits of genome sequencing.
His spokesman said: "He has never lobbied the government on behalf of the company or been involved in any contractual or commercial discussions."
A Government spokesman added: "Any suggestion of undue ministerial involvement in the decision making is completely wrong.
"This contract, signed to help save lives through better diagnoses, was awarded in the correct way, through the proper process."
In a statement Illumina said it "always follows the correct and necessary processes in its negotiations with customers".
A source close to Mr Hancock insisted that he had responded to the firm's invitation to the conference once his diary was clear.
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