Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street

The Government has awarded a service contract to a Conservative Party donor, New Politic can reveal.

Released information shows that a contract has been awarded to a company called Agnicare UK Limited for a total sum of £306,000. Agnicare UK Limited was founded by Derek Luckhurst in 1993 and it provides community care services in England.

In 2014, Luckhurst was highlighted as a key individual in an exposé by The Mirror called Selling off NHS for profit, which showed a link between various MPs in the Houses of Commons and private healthcare firms. Richard Drax MP was one of the politicians in question, who received £14,000 in donations from Luckhurst.

Drax has been the MP for South Dorset since 2010. During the 2010 United Kingdom general election campaign, it was reported that Drax’s family fortune had been earned through slavery. In 2013, it was revealed that Drax’s ancestor — John Erle Drax, an MP during the Victorian era — received compensation by the British government in 1836 when slavery abolished. At the time, Drax owned 189 slaves on an estate in Barbados.

Last year, it was also revealed that Drax still owns and grows sugar on the same plantation in Barbados that made his family’s fortune. According to Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, 30,000 slaves died at the plantation in Barbados (among others) over a 200-year period.

The contract was awarded to Luckhurst for “health and social work services”. Under the contract, Agnicare will help support individuals discharged from a hospital setting to their own home, and also help provide support to individuals to prevent the need for a hospital admission. The contract states that “individuals discharged into this service may be Covid-19 positive and there is an expectation that the service provider will accept these individuals into this service.” The contract has an initial term of 6 months, with an option to extend for another 6 months.

Last year, New Politic was among the first to publish a full suite of controversial COVID-19 contracts awarded by the Government to Conservative Party family, friends and donors. We concluded that the Government’s failure to prevent a second national lockdown billed the taxpayer almost £1 billion in wasted costs.

The contract brings into question, yet again, the impartiality of the Government’s service contracts and whether there is a conflict of interest between ministers and provide service providers.