David Cameron introduced schoolfriend to Tory ‘fixer’ to discuss Covid tests, report says
David Cameron introduced a former school friend from Eton to a senior Department for Health and Social Care adviser as part of a proposition to sell Covid tests to the government during the height of the first wave of the pandemic, it has been reported.
Hugh Warrender, who attended the elite private school with Mr Cameron during the 1980s, is said to have contacted the former prime minister in April last year to ask for help regarding a firm he was representing who wished to sell their wares on to the government
The tests failed to meet the NHS’s standards and were never purchased.
Mr Cameron introduced Mr Warrender, a former hedge fund manager who was representing an unnamed overseas firm making Covid tests, to his close friend Lord Feldman, who was at the time advising a junior health minister, The Guardian reported on Monday.
The connection was made in early April, around the same time Mr Cameron sent texts lobbying the chancellor to grant a government-backed loan to the now-collapsed finance firm Greensill Capital.
Lord Feldman, it has since emerged, was working at the time as an undeclared “fixer” for the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). He is a university friend of Mr Cameron’s, was the Conservative Party’s co-chairman for five years, and in 2010 was given a seat in the House of Lords by the then-prime minister.
The peer has confirmed to The Guardian he was given details by Mr Warrender about the testing kits for sale and passed them on to officials at the DHSC.
“DHSC officials subsequently advised that these tests did not meet MHRA published specifications and could not be used,” he told the newspaper.
A spokesperson for Mr Cameron insisted the former prime minister’s role was simply as a go between in forwarding on an email from Mr Warrender to Lord Feldman, and said he had not been paid by the firm making the tests nor had he had any other contact with them.
Mr Cameron’s connections with government once he left office have come under intense scrutiny as a result of the Greensill Capital scandal, after it emerged he had been lobbying hard with friends and colleagues in Westminster for the finance firm – in which he held a number of shares – to be given government contracts.
The DHSC said Lord Feldman was not involved in any procurement decisions and “no contracts were awarded as a result of this contact”.
“In the early days of the pandemic we issued a call to arms to private and public sector organisations as we prepared to mobilise resources and scale up testing, ahead of the establishment of NHS Test and Trace,” a spokesperson for the department said.
“The department received offers of support from a large number of suppliers but many were not taken forward as we prioritised volume, price and clinical acceptability.”