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Tory donor’s £13m profit in PPE deals with 9,000% surge after ‘VIP lane’ help

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Meller Designs was awarded £160million in Government contracts controversially awarded without the usual competitive tendering process due to the shortage of masks

David Meller owner the PPE supplier

A firm owned by a major Tory donor made £13million in profits in 2020 – up more than 9,000% – after securing a string of PPE contracts during the pandemic.

Meller Designs, a fashion accessories wholesaler which sold less then £13m of goods in 2019, was awarded £160m in Government contracts by the Department of Health, under Health Minister Matt Hancock, to supply PPE last year.

These contracts were controversially awarded without the usual competitive tendering process due to the shortage of masks.

It won the first £65m order in May, weeks after the owner of its parent company, David Meller, directly lobbied Health Minister Lord Bethell via the “VIP lane” for Covid contracts.

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Meller Designs was awarded £160m in Government contracts by the Department of Health, under Health Minister Matt Hancock, to supply PPE
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Mr Meller, 61, has given nearly £60,000 to the Tories since 2009. He was a director of Meller Designs until 2013 and co-owned it with his brother until January via a Jersey-based offshore company.

Accounts show it had a £170m turnover in 2020, up from £12.8m in 2019 and made a profit after tax of £13.2m, up from £144,000 in 2019.

The firm previously specialised in “wholesaling own label fashion accessories to retailers”.









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But latest accounts say: “The Company expanded these activities using the experience and and expertise of its Far East Office in sourcing, testing and quality control during the pandemic.”

Heavily redacted documents released by the Department of Health after a FOI request showed Mr Meller spoke to Lord Bethell on April 6 2020.

According to an email sent that day by an unknown individual, Mr Meller was “looking to deal with a block in ordering .. face masks”.







It added: “Appreciate if you can ensure that this is actioned ASAP.”

In its accounts, Meller Designs states: “We are extremely proud of the role we played in the pandemic.”

Lawyer Jo Maugham of the Good Law Project, which has taken the Government to court over the “VIP lane”, said: “All these people say they did it for the sake of the good old NHS.









“If they gave a damn about the NHS, why aren’t they donating these profits to the NHS?”

A Department for Health spokesperson said: “Proper due diligence is carried out for all Government contracts and we take these checks extremely seriously.

“This process involves all contracts complying with robust rules that prevent conflicts of interest.”




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