PPE nhs hospital
© AFPNHS workers in Cambridge wear various forms of PPE (stock image)
A staggering one in five of all contracts doled out in the pandemic "raise one or more red flags" for being dodgy, a major new study found.

The Transparency International report slammed the VIP lane which gave high priority to companies referred by MPs, peers and top mandarins.

There appears to be "systemic bias towards those with connections to the party of government in Westminster", the study found.

And it lashed Whitehall for failing to keep a proper paper trail of why contracts were dished out to certain firms.

Comment: They probably didn't keep proper records because they didn't want anyone keeping track of their dodgy deals.

It found that 24 PPE contracts worth a staggering £1.6bn were handed out to people with known links to the Tories.

Between February and November last year, 98.9 per cent of Covid contracts were given without any competition, the report said.

Daniel Bruce, chief executive of Transparency International UK, said: "There are now very serious questions for the Government to answer with more than a fifth of the money spent on purchases in response to the pandemic raising red flags.

"The Government's approach to procurement during this critical period has already dented public confidence at a time when the trust of its citizens is most needed.

"We must now have full accountability for the eye-watering amounts of taxpayers' money spent on the response - with the award for each of the 73 contracts we highlight in our report subject to a thorough audit."