We need a public inquiry into profiteering on PPE

The PPE procurement scandal runs deep. The information now emerging about Lady Mone needs to be met with a public inquiry )(Revealed: Tory peer Michelle Mone secretly received £29m from ‘VIP lane’ PPE firm, 23 November. There are several questions that this raises:

First, why weren’t all PPE contracts awarded on a full-cost-plus-margin basis? The profiteering percentages on all these deals are frankly mind-boggling. Where can anyone earn 30% margins on a simple procurement contract in the real world? You can’t, is the answer.

Second, why did the government use so many untested companies (PPE Medpro, Pestfix, Ayanda)? How could they perform due diligence on any of the above companies mentioned if they had zero track record? PPE Medpro didn’t even exist until 12 May 2020.

Lastly, why did we not use professional entities like Marks & Spencer or John Lewis to arrange for PPE contracts? While they had no track record in the medical world (like the examples above), they at least had professional procurement teams and would have probably arranged the deals for a modest fixed percentage. Maybe even at cost, given the national emergency. The government should release all the information, so a proper forensic accounting can be done. Congratulations to the Guardian for continuing to pursue this story.
Tim Fallowfield

• On the NHS frontline in the Covid pandemic, I saw wonderful examples of staff and volunteers working together for the greater good. The contrasting greed and selfishness of Michelle Mone and her family (PPE Medpro: Company declines to say how it would repay millions if told to do so, 25 November), in benefiting from huge profits on substandard PPE equipment, is staggering.

No amount of slick lawyer speak and underhand offshore accounting can protect them from their own moral bankruptcy. They used an international emergency to feather their own nests from the public purse. History should judge them harshly, as it has profiteers from previous global tragedies.
Dr Jeremy Oliver

• Shameful profiteering at a time of national need (Gove under pressure to explain role in PPE deals for Mone-linked firm, 24 November) has happened before, but then action was taken. In 1919, after the first world war, the president of the board of trade introduced a profiteering bill, saying: “all thinking men must regard [profiteering] as a serious evil ... To profiteer is to make unreasonably large profit … by the sale to one’s fellow citizens”. It must be time for similar action to be taken now on all involved in the corrupt “VIP lane” and shady test-and-trace procurements during our national Covid crisis.
Dr Tristram Wyatt

• I can’t be the only one to have noticed the juxtaposition of your editorial (The Guardian view on the pandemic’s educational impact: make good learning losses, 24 November) and Angela Rayner’s column (Lady Mone is accused and still the Tories won’t come clean about PPE. What are they hiding?, 24 November). The £9bn simply written off by the government on overpriced or useless PPE could have funded two-thirds of the sum recommended by Sir Kevan Collins for the post-pandemic education package. There are no words.
Dave Headey
Faringdon, Oxfordshire

• John F Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” The Tories have turned his speech on its head.
Laurie Baily
West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire

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