Pub landlord who won Covid contract buys £1.3 million manor

Pub landlord who won Covid contract buys £1.3 million manor

Pub landlord who won a multi-million-pound Covid contract after lobbying his pal Matt Hancock buys a £1.3 million six-bed manor

  • Alex Bourne, a friend of Matt Hancock, has bought Hundon Hall for £1.3million
  • Bourne previously lobbied Matt Hancock as part of a bid for a Covid contract
  • He met Hancock when he took over the freehold of the Cock Inn in Thurlow

A former pub landlord who won a multi-million-pound Covid contract after lobbying his friend Matt Hancock bought a £1.3 million country manor house just months after securing the lucrative deal.

Alex Bourne, who is now at the centre of a cronyism row involving the shamed former Health Secretary, purchased Hundon Hall, a 17th Century property boasting original oak timbers, six bedrooms and three stables last December, according to Land Registry documents. It came just nine months after he first emailed Mr Hancock as part of his bid to secure a Covid-19 contract.

Formerly the home of Henry Walton Smith, the founder of newsagent chain W H Smith, the imposing property stands at the end of a gravel drive in rolling Suffolk countryside and features a meadow, a lake and a Mediterranean-style outside dining area.

Alex Bourne (right), who is now at the centre of a cronyism row involving the shamed former Health Secretary, purchased Hundon Hall, a 17th Century property boasting original oak timbers, six bedrooms and three stables last December, according to Land Registry documents

Mr Bourne, a former Army captain, met Mr Hancock when he took over the freehold of the Cock Inn in Thurlow, West Suffolk, close to the MP’s constituency home in 2016. As well as praising the Cock Inn in public, Mr Hancock hung a photograph of the pub on the wall of his office at his home, only removing it in the light of ongoing concerns about the contract.

Documents published by The Mail on Sunday last weekend showed Mr Hancock forwarded an email from Mr Bourne on March 30 last year about manufacturing surgical masks to a senior civil servant at the Department of Health.

At the time, the Government was desperate to secure supplies of PPE. Mr Bourne, whose company Hinpack Limited manufactured cartons and cups for the catering industry and had no experience of supplying medical equipment, later secured a reported £30 million deal to provide test tubes for Covid tests.

Mr Hancock, who resigned last weekend after his affair with aide Gina Coladangelo was exposed, previously told Sky News that Mr Bourne ‘went through the normal channels’, adding: ‘I don’t have anything to do with the signing of individual contracts.’

Mr Bourne, a former Army captain, met Mr Hancock when he took over the freehold of the Cock Inn in Thurlow, West Suffolk, close to the MP’s constituency home in 2016. Pictured: Hundon Hall

Mr Bourne denies any impropriety, disputes the reported value of the Hinpack contract, and says the deal was signed with an approved NHS distributor rather than directly with the Government.

He said last night that Hundon Hall had been bought with proceeds from the sale of the family’s terrace home in Battersea, South-West London. The London house, which was purchased for £915,000 in 2014, was sold last November for £1.225 million.

‘I did not buy Hundon Hall because of Covid,’ said Mr Bourne. ‘I have yet to make any personal cash from this contract.’

The emails, obtained by the MoS under Freedom of Information rules, also revealed that Mr Bourne secured a place on a virtual Zoom session with Mr Hancock and Boris Johnson to discuss ‘manufacturing support for increased testing’.

It emerged last week that Mr Hancock also used a private Gmail account for work purposes. Asked if any messages exchanged between the former Health Secretary and Mr Bourne through using that account has been disclosed, the Department of Health said: ‘All Ministers are aware of the rules around personal email usage.’

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