An ex-Tory councillor who bought a lavish country estate after being awarded a £276 million PPE contract has added a holiday home and a house for his parents to his portfolio.
Steve Dechan, the owner of medical device firm Platform-14, was handed a £120 million contract to supply masks in March, followed by a further £156 million deal to supply gowns and masks in June – both of which were without a competitive tender.
It emerged last week that Dechan – whose company made a loss of close to £500,000 last year – used some of the profits to buy a £1.5 million, grade II listed property in the Cotswolds, and hand himself a half a million pound payday.
And since then, he admitted that he has bought a £250,000 holiday home in Cornwall and a £50,000 house for his parents in Exeter.
He told the Sunday Times that he had done “very, very well out of the pandemic”. But he defended the work he had done to battle Covid-19, saying that the PPE he had delivered helped “millions of people in pain”.
Dechan said he was “thrown to the wolves” by the government, who declined to thank him publicly for his efforts. His contract was the third biggest PPE deal awarded thus far.
Ministers’ PPE procurement has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks, after a damning National Audit Office report revealed that the government had established a fast-track VIP lane to purchase billions of pounds of PPE from little-known companies with political contacts in the Conservative party.
With ministers already under fire for fostering a ‘chumocracy’ at the heart of government, the National Audit Office (NAO) found that suppliers with links to Tory politicians were ten times more likely to be awarded contracts than those who applied to the Department of Health and Social Care.
Roughly one-in-ten suppliers processed through the VIP channel – 47 out of 493 – obtained lucrative PPE contracts, compared to less than one-in-a-hundred suppliers that came through the ordinary lane.