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The government should be investigated after again blowing millions of pounds of public cash on PPE that didn’t work, Labour has urged.
It comes after the revelation that 50m face masks, bought as part of a £252m contract with Ayanda Capital – a London firm that specialises in “currency trading, offshore property, private equity and trade financing – proved essentially useless to health workers.
Ayanda insists the masks from China, which use ear-loop fastenings rather than head loops, meet specifications, but a government safety probe found they may not fit tightly enough.
The safety ruling was disclosed in a legal response to the Good Law Project.
It follows a series of other failed PPE deals during the coronavirus pandemic and demands for the National Audit Office (NAO) to intervene are growing.
“The face fit is either a pass or a fail and there are more fails on products with ear loops than there are on products with head harnesses,” says Alan Murray, chief executive of the British Safety Industry Federation.
“That means that it wouldn’t necessarily provide the protection that was required from it.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for an inquiry into the purchase of the masks.
He said: “For months we were told that the government was purchasing the right equipment for the front line. Yet again it hasn’t happened.
“There needs now to be an investigation, an inquiry, into what went wrong with this particular contract because it’s just not good enough to people who need that protective equipment that we find ourselves in this position.”
Since the outbreak, the government has been scrambling to buy PPE as much of the UK’s national stockpile was found to be out of date.
Among many failed PPE deals since March was a shipment of medical gowns from Turkey. The RAF was drafted in to fly in the 400,000 gowns...