Matt Hancock defends support for PPE bid by sex text shame former Tory minister Brooks Newmark before he landed a £180million contract to provide 90million pairs of goggles to the NHS
- Health Secretary insisted that Brooks Newmark received no special treatment
- Ex-minister brokered a deal for firms to supply millions of pairs of goggles
- Newmark quit in 2014 after sharing lewd photos with undercover reporter
Matt Hancock went on the defensive today after being accused of personally intervening to help a shamed former Tory minister land a £180million PPR contract.
The Health Secretary insisted that Brooks Newmark received no special treatment as he brokered a deal for international firms to supply millions of pairs of goggles to the NHS last year.
Mr Newmark, 63, a father of five, quit just months after being made minister for civil society in 2014 after he was exposed as having exchanged lewd photographs with a male journalist posing as a glamorous 20-year-old Tory PR woman.
A Freedom of Information probe by the Sunday Times today discovered National Audit Office emails showing that last May, at the height of the first Covid lockdown, he lobbied the Government on behalf of a Hong Kong firm.
After a string of email exchanges with Mr Hancock and his senior aides the company was awarded a £178million deal in June.
But Mr Hancock angrily defended his conduct today, saying it was ‘absolutely appropriate for anybody to get in contact with anybody at the Department of Health when the country desperately needed PPE’.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme: ‘Of course when someone approaches the Health Secretary in the middle of a pandemic when you are desperately short of PPE it is perfectly reasonable for the Health Secretary to then send on the email and say ”can we have a look at this?”.’
‘I didn’t have anything to do with the signing of any of these contracts … I wanted it to be looked at and by-the-way, 90 million goggles later I’m glad that I did.’
The Health Secretary helped Brooks Newmark broker a deal for international firms to get involved with the supply of vital gloves,masks and other equipment.
Mr Newmark,a father of five, quit as minister for civil society in 2014 after he was exposed as having exchanged lewd photographs with a male journalist posing as a glamorous 20-year-old Tory PR woman.
In one of the emails, replying to Mr Newmark’s proposal, Mr Hancock wrote: ‘Thanks. Definitely one for the PPE team who are firing on all cylinders now.’
The Health Secretary was then copied into a message on May 28 by one of his aides to Lord Deighton, the PPE Tsar, saying ‘Please see below from former MP Brooks Newmark … an excellent PPE proposal that the health secretary and I would be very grateful if Lord Deighton could look into urgently.’
Days later the deal was completed.
Mr Newmark’s career and marriage collapsed after he was exposed in 2014. He exchanged explicit pictures online with someone he believed to be a young blonde Tory named Sophie. In fact, the profile had been created by a male freelance reporter.
The MP, who led David Cameron’s drive for greater representation of women in politics, also sent explicit photographs to a young single mother weeks after being appointed as a minister in 2014.
He bombarded her with up to 40 naked pictures and told her ‘I am desperate for sex with you’ during a two year affair. He stepped down as MP for Braintree at the 2015 election.
He declined to respond to the Sunday Times, while a Government spokesman said its priority had ‘always been saving lives’.