PPE: Supplier of millions of 'not fit for use' gowns received £47m dividends

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Robert Gros

Image caption,

Robert Gros appeared connected BBC Business Live successful 2018

By Jon Ironmonger

BBC News, Cambridgeshire

A businessman whose institution supplied the NHS with millions of seemingly unusable surgical gowns earned £47m successful dividends past year.

During the Covid pandemic, Cambridge-based Chemical Intelligence won £162m of authorities contracts to supply idiosyncratic protective instrumentality (PPE).

Data obtained by the BBC shows astatine slightest a 5th of the instrumentality supplied was classified arsenic "not acceptable for use".

Chemical Intelligence said each the PPE it provided was acceptable for purpose.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) told the BBC it was successful "a commercialized quality with this supplier" truthful could not remark further.

Lawyers acting for Robert Gros, the sole proprietor and main enforcement serviceman of Chemical Intelligence, said "no ailment has been made to our lawsuit for the proviso of these items of PPE".

They added that determination had been an contented with the DHSC being incapable to find the close documentation for immoderate products.

Chemical Intelligence was founded successful 2012, and 5 years aboriginal successfully licensed an antimicrobial aesculapian glove.

Image source, UK Government

Image caption,

The DHSC declaration includes of an representation of the Chinese-manufactured gowns

According to nationalist declaration data, it was awarded 3 contracts from the DHSC successful April and May 2020 totalling £162m to vessel gowns and face-masks from China.

The company, past made up of 2 employees, said it was invited to proviso PPE during the pandemic due to the fact that of its proven way record.

Companies House records amusement it went connected to marque an operating nett of much than £30m successful the years ending August 31st successful some 2020 and 2021.

Spreadsheets leaked to the Good Law Project and seen by the BBC suggest the DHSC ordered 20.5 cardinal gowns from Chemical Intelligence astatine a full outgo of £160m and spent an other £1.98m connected 2 cardinal look masks.

Further information obtained by the BBC showed that successful January the section was holding 4.5 cardinal gowns supplied by Chemical Intelligence that had been "subclassified arsenic not acceptable for use".

"The worth of this banal has been written down to £0 successful the department's accounts," the Freedom of Information Act effect added.

Mr Gros's lawyers said they did not recognize the DHSC classification "not acceptable for use" oregon "valued astatine £0" and that determination were a fig of reasons wherefore PPE mightiness beryllium incapable to beryllium used.

They said the institution believed each the banal they provided was usable and told the BBC it had successfully provided bully prime PPE for much than a decade.

Of the remaining gowns supplied by Chemical Intelligence, the DHSC said successful effect to an FOIA petition successful March that 217,000 had been handed to NHS Trusts.

This means that 1.06% of the 20.5 cardinal gowns provided successful 2020 had been utilized by April this year.

The DHSC said the gowns had been released for NHS usage - determination is nary proposition that immoderate are faulty.

In January 2022, Chemical Intelligence paid £7m successful dividends and 2 months aboriginal paid dividends of £40m into a holding company, wholly owned by Robert Gros.

The company's lawyers said that this was mostly reinvested for probe and improvement and that profits were not solely related to the DHSC PPE contracts.

Image caption,

Chemical Intelligence has acquired bureau abstraction successful cardinal Cambridge

Mr Gros, 55, has since acquired bureau abstraction connected Hill Road successful Cambridge and purchased a £3.95m location successful Cambridgeshire.

Job adverts posted connected LinkedIn successful November by his main of unit said a "high calibre cleaner" was required astatine her client's "large home" to "suit the family's precocious standards".

Responsibilities included arranging caller flowers; attraction of good furnishings and cleaning the wrong of vehicles.

His lawyers accidental the location was not bought with wealth from immoderate DHSC contract.

There is nary proposition Chemical Intelligence Ltd broke immoderate rules oregon acted improperly successful immoderate way.

However, questions stay implicit the DHSC's handling of contracts for PPE and the usage of nationalist wealth to acquisition instrumentality which has inactive not been released to NHS frontline services.

A House of Commons Committee report published successful June said that of the £12bn spent connected PPE the section had "£4bn of PPE successful retention that volition not beryllium utilized successful the NHS".

A DHSC spokesperson said: "We acted swiftly to procure PPE astatine the tallness of the pandemic, competing successful an overheated planetary marketplace wherever request massively outstripped supply.

"Due diligence was carried retired connected each companies that were referred to the section and each institution was subjected to the aforesaid checks.

"We are successful a commercialized quality with this supplier and truthful cannot remark further astatine this time."

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