Covid-19 test kit supplier joked to Matt Hancock that he'd 'never heard of him'
Hancock? "Never heard of him"
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock faced further questions last night about his relationship with the former landlord of his local pub, Alex Bourne, after private WhatsApp messages between the pair from November were leaked.
Bourne, who was given a Government contract worth £30 million to supply the NHS with millions of Covid test kits, joked that he had "never heard" of Matt Hancock in their private message, the Guardian has reported.
The exchange on WhatsApp, seen by the Guardian, shows an obvious familiarity between Hancock and Bourne.
The WhatsApp messages suggest that Bourne may have publicly downplayed the the true extent of his relationship with Hancock.
In one message, the Health Secretary referred to the Guardian as “a rag” when making Bourne aware of the newspaper's intended story about their connection, to which Bourne responds: "Matt Hancock - never heard of him. We managed to get the chain of events on how we ended up supplying NHS along with supporting evidence that shows you were nothing to do with us.”
Bourne then assured Hancock that his lawyers were “all over” the reporter covering the story about their association “like a tramp on chips”.
Hancock sent Alex Bourne, a former publican, a WhatsApp calling the Guardian “a rag”. Bourne wrote back: “Matt Hancock – never heard of him” before assuring the health secretary that his lawyers were “all over” a reporter investigating their connection “like a tramp on chips”.
— Paul Lewis (@PaulLewis) March 11, 2021
Bourne first met the Health Secretary while running Hancock's local pub in West Suffolk.
Bourne’s manufacturing business, Hinpack, had previously never made medical products, but was contracted by the Government to make test tubes for the NHS Covid tests.