UK Health Minister Steps Down Over COVID Test Price-fixing Accusation

A British health minister at the center of a series of controversies over the government’s handling of coronavirus has been given the sack in Boris Johnson’s reshuffle.

Lord Bethell said he was “sad to be standing down” from the Department of Health and Social Care where he was a surprise appointment as minister for innovation at the outset of the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020.

He became a lightning rod for cronyism allegations in relation to multi-million pound contracts for PPE, tests, and equipment, after telling the House of Lords that in the hunt for supplies ministers used “a very large network of contacts” and “informal arrangements.”

He is currently facing a High Court challenge from the Good Law Project campaign over a series of deals worth £87.5 million (US$119.9 million) to devise, make, and supply home antibody tests, signed in April 2020 between the DHSC – a consortium led by York-based firm Abingdon Health.

The case has exposed his frequent use of his personal mobile phone and emails to conduct official business, with lawyers pressing for the release of more than 30,000 messages which they believe are potentially linked to discussions around contracts.