Why was £108m of public money paid to Crisp Websites Limited?

by EveryDoctor and Good Law Project

Why was £108m of public money paid to Crisp Websites Limited?

by EveryDoctor and Good Law Project
EveryDoctor and Good Law Project
Case Owner
EveryDoctor works for a future where every patient and every doctor is safe. Good Law Project is a not for profit that uses strategic litigation for a better world.
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Latest: Dec. 2, 2020

We're in court tomorrow

Last week we were pleased to be granted permission from the court to bring our challenge with EveryDoctor against the Government’s decision to award PPE contracts to Pestfix (a pest control com…

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How on earth did a company - Crisp Websites Limited - with last reported net assets of £18,047 win a contract worth £108m - and why was there apparently no bidding process? 

The bare facts are quite remarkable. Here is the filing history of Crisp Websites Limited showing at 30 November 2019 it had net assets of £18,047. Here is the Official Journal publication of the 12 month £108m contract it entered into with Matt Hancock's department. That publication states there was only one bidder for that contract.

From these bare facts, a quite remarkable series of questions arise.

1. Was this contract ever advertised? If so, where? No one we have spoken to is aware of any advertisement.

2. If it was not advertised, how was Crisp Websites Limited chosen? Who was the decision maker? How did the name of this tiny company come to be placed before the decision maker?

3. Why was Crisp Websites Limited chosen? You can only award a contract without advertising where “there is only one supplier … with capacity to complete on the scale required”. How could Government possibly think Crisp Websites Limited was that company?

4. Why did Government wait until April until to procure PPE? You can only award a contract without advertising where there is unforeseeable “extreme urgency”? How could the need for PPE have been unforeseeable in April when the EU knew that there was an urgent need for procurement in February?  

5. Why has Government ignored its own guidance requiring publication of the contract within 20 days? It is now more than two months on and the contract has still not been published.

6. How was a company with net assets of £18,000 put in a position where it could cashflow a contract to purchase £108m of PPE? 

7. Why did Government use the "extreme urgency" procedure to buy PPE for March 2021? The contract, entered into in April 2020, ran for 12 months.

Dominic Cummings has written - see to take one example this - of his dislike of EU procurement rules which guarantee transparency and see to ensure value for money. 

But if this is his brave new world we're not sure we like it.

There are still reports of inadequate PPE - even before we contemplate the possibility of a subsequent wave or waves to the pandemic. Only with good procurement practice, can we safeguard the lives of the public and healthcare workers.



Along with EveryDoctor, we have instructed leading procurement lawyers Jason Coppell QC and Brendan McGurk and Rook Irwin Sweeney. You can read our pre-action protocol letter here and the court bundle here.

10% of the sums raised will go to the Good Law Project to help it develop and support further litigation in the public interest. It is our policy only to raise sums that we reasonably anticipate could be spent on this litigation. However, if there is a surplus it will go to support and enable other litigation we bring. Our founder, Jo Maugham QC, continues to work unpaid.  




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Update 7

EveryDoctor and Good Law Project

Dec. 2, 2020

We're in court tomorrow

Last week we were pleased to be granted permission from the court to bring our challenge with EveryDoctor against the Government’s decision to award PPE contracts to Pestfix (a pest control company), Ayanda (an opaque private fund owned through a tax haven) and Clandeboye (a confectionery wholesaler).

The Court gave us permission on some – but not all – of our grounds of complaint. However, extraordinary new evidence has emerged since we issued proceedings – in both the NAO investigation into procurement and a trove of emails uncovered between Government and the Health and Safety Executive. And for these amongst other reasons we asked for a short oral hearing to make a renewed case on the rejected grounds. The hearing takes place tomorrow. 

The leaked correspondence between HSE and Government on the Pestfix contract is particularly troubling. It shows that the HSE was placed under enormous pressure by Government to authorise the use of Pestfix PPE which the HSE had decided should not be released into the supply chain. It shows that HSE had grave concerns about the authenticity of the documents Pestfix had supplied. It shows that Government was “bombarding [it] with calls on this issue” and “requesting statements to the effect that HSE assessed the products and they were compliant – not factually correct.” And it shows that Pestfix was writing saying that “we do not want it to be made public-knowledge that PPE from PestFix has not passed HSE inspection.”

Days later, in formal pre-action correspondence, Pestfix said: “There have been no recalls, complaints or incidents bringing into question the fitness for purpose of the products supplied under the contract.” And Government said: “There was and is no question of PestFix supplying PPE which is not appropriate for the use to which it will be put.”

Unlike the Government, we are committed to transparency. We are publishing in full our Skeleton Argument for the hearing and the witness statement made by our Director Jolyon Maugham QC, setting out chapter and verse of our allegations.

We will publish the outcome of the hearing as soon as we have it. This may be some days after the hearing has concluded.

Update 6

EveryDoctor and Good Law Project

Nov. 24, 2020

We're going to court

To bring judicial review proceedings you have to establish you have an arguable case. Courts have, in recent times, interpreted this as imposing a relatively high bar for judicial review proceedings; think of it as being shortlisted for a job. And if they think you cross that bar they give you ‘permission’.

We have now heard  that the High Court has given Good Law Project and EveryDoctor permission to bring our challenge against its decision to award contracts to Pestfix, Ayanda, and Clandeboye

Now the Government will have to come clean about what really happened.

The Court gave us permission on some – but not all – of our grounds of complaint. So we have asked the Court for a short oral hearing in which we will make the case to be given permission on the others. That hearing will take place on Thursday, 3rd December.

Meanwhile, we have brought a further five challenges to other contracts that Government gave to VIP-channelled pest control specialist Pestfix. You can read the bundle here.

Thank you,

Update 5

EveryDoctor and Good Law Project

Sept. 4, 2020

They claim they're being honest

Yesterday in Parliament, Jacob Rees Mogg MP was questioned over the PPE fiasco that has seen the Government spend hundreds of millions of pounds on protective equipment that can’t be used by the NHS. The contract in question was handed to Ayanda Capital, an opaque private fund, with links to a Government advisor. His response?


‘It is equally right that those decisions are held to account within this House, this is why we have such an honest and uncorrupt country.’


But whilst in public the Government claims openness and transparency the story behind the scenes is a very different one. Lawyers acting on behalf of Good Law Project and EveryDoctor in this legal challenge over Ayanda’s questionable PPE contract have written to the High Court expressing dismay at the Government’s lack of transparency.

‘The Defendant’s failure candidly and transparently to address that point is reprehensible’ 

The full blistering legal letter can be read here.  

Our legal team has also written to the Government to question why Ayanda Capital, linked to Government advisor, received more favourable contract terms than other businesses who were given contracts to supply PPE.

Jacob Rees Mogg claims there is no funny business. On the evidence we have - only some of which we can put into the public domain - we are a long way from being persuaded he is right.

Update 4

EveryDoctor and Good Law Project

Aug. 11, 2020

They are trying to warn us off

Government has now admitted that it didn’t enter into one PPE contract with a pest control company, but eleven.

This is the same pest control company that flogged PPE to UK businesses which had not undergone sufficient checks. The unsafe PPE has now been recalled. And there are more shocking details about the quality of PPE provided by Pestfix still to emerge.


Lawyers acting on behalf of Pestfix have written to the Court to ask that our legal challenge is dismissed because we won’t be able to afford their costs if we lose. Their intention is to warn us off. It hasn’t worked.


Good Law Project and EveryDoctor continue to pursue judicial review proceedings over the contract award to Pestfix, as well as PPE contracts awarded to a confectionery wholesaler and an opaque family fund. It is only with your support that this is possible.  

Thank you, 

Good Law Project team



Update 3

EveryDoctor and Good Law Project

Aug. 6, 2020

They purchased masks that don't work

The Government awarded a PPE contract worth £252 million to Ayanda Capital Limited, a ‘family office’ owned through a tax haven in Mauritius, with connections to Liz Truss. It is the largest PPE contract we have seen to date. 


In response to judicial review proceedings issued by Good Law Project, the Government has admitted that the 50 million FFP2 masks they purchased from Ayanda Capital – for a price that we calculate to be between £156m and £177m –  “will not be used in the NHS” because “there was concern as to whether the[y]… provided an adequate fixing.”


So, unless Government finds another use for, or seeks to sell, those unsuitable masks, that money has been wasted. And as for the remaining 150 million Type IIR masks purchased from Ayanda Capital? Government has admitted they also require further testing and have not been released for use in the NHS.


We have also unearthed another absolutely remarkable feature of the £252 million Ayanda contract. Matt Hancock’s lawyers have now admitted they planned to enter into that contract with a £100 company wholly owned by Liz Truss adviser Andrew Mills and his wife. Mr Mills asked - and Government agreed - to enter into it with Ayanda instead because the £100 company (Prospermill Limited) didn’t have “international payment infrastructure.” Just how much has this arrangement prospered Mills? 


Good Law Project has now issued three sets of judicial review proceedings in relation to the procurement of PPE - with a pest controller, a confectioner and Ayanda/Prospermill. Not one of those contracts- has resulted in any PPE yet being released for use in the NHS. The entirety of the PPE delivered under these three contracts is either untested or has already been found to be unusable.


These are the facts – and they are not disputed.


The more we scratch the surface of the PPE fiasco, the more shocking details that emerge. If we are to prevent more PPE failures and protect public funds, we need proper answers from this Government. With your support, we intend to get them.

Update 2

EveryDoctor and Good Law Project

July 15, 2020

The PPE fiasco

More details of PPE fiasco that left hundreds of doctors and nurses dead are starting to emerge.

Whilst our EU partners were putting together emergency procurement arrangements in late January, it wasn’t until March that Government put together an emergency scheme to protect our doctors and nurses and care workers.

By then the global market for PPE had tightened considerably and Government was having to play catch up – ditching the normal rules that secure good value for public money and which guard against corruption in the process. On 27 March Government opened its portal inviting tenders for PPE on the gov.uk website and received 24,000 offers from 16,000 suppliers. It spent – this is Government’s figure – a staggering £5.5bn. And, surprisingly, three of the biggest beneficiaries were companies specialising in pest control, a confectionery wholesaler and an opaque private fund owned through a tax haven.

Why? We do not know. And Government is not helping – it has ignored the usual rule that contracts should be published within 20 days.

But Good Law Project, working with EveryDoctor, means to find out. Our intention is to pursue judicial review claims in respect of the Pestfix, Clandeboye and Ayanda contracts. But we will keep these contracts under review – and we may substitute others if better examples emerge.

Litigation of this scale and importance is undeniably difficult and expensive. It is only possible thanks to your support


Good Law Project and EveryDoctor has instructed Rook Irwin Sweeney in this case. You can read correspondence with the Government Legal Department below: 

10th June: We issued a Pre Action Protocol Letter over the Government’s decision to award a PPE contract to PestFix (available here)
16th June: We received an initial response from the Government: (available here)
17th June: We received further correspondence from the Government Legal Department, which stated the initial contract award notice had been issued ‘in error’: (available here)
29th June: We issued a Pre Action Protocol Letter over the Government’s decision to award a PPE contract to Clandeboye: (available here)
1st July: Government Legal Department response: (available here)
3rd July: We received a response from Osborne Clark, who are instructed on behalf of PestFix: (available here)
3rd July: We sent a letter to the Government Legal Department regarding Clandeboye: (available here)

Update 1

EveryDoctor and Good Law Project

July 4, 2020

Another £108m for PPE - this time to a sweet vendor

Not just pest control.

The Government has awarded £108 million in contracts for the supply of PPE to a wholesaler of sweets. The enormous contract was awarded to the confectionery business seemingly without any advertising or competitive tendering process. There is no evidence that the company, Clandeboye Agencies Limited, has any experience in supplying PPE.

The more we scratch the surface about the PPE contracts awarded by Government, the more serious questions that arise. Enormous amounts of public money have been dished out, seemingly without any advertising or competitive tendering process. To protect public funds and to try and prevent further PPE procurement failures, we intend to get answers. We have sent a letter before action to the Government in respect of Clandeboye - and will keep you posted.

Jolyon Maugham

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