The National Audit Office, which keeps an eye on public spending,
says the government was not transparent in how it selected suppliers for £18bn worth of Covid-19 contracts at the start of the pandemic. Firms recommended by MPs, peers and ministers’ offices were given priority and not enough was done to address potential conflicts of interest, the NAO said. The government acknowledged it had procured services with “extreme urgency”, but insisted “robust processes” were in place. It comes after the news that a Spanish businessman received $28m (£21m) of taxpayers’ money for acting as a go-between to secure protective garments for NHS staff.