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Coronavirus: 50 million face masks bought by the UK government ditched over safety concerns
One of the lawyers suing says it is a “a real cause for alarm”, but the government says “due diligence” is always taken.

50 million face masks bought by the UK government will not be used in the NHS due to safety concerns.

The personal protective equipment (PPE) ordered from Ayanda Capital have ear loops rather than head loops, and there are concerns over whether they are adequate.

The Good Law Project and EveryDoctor, which are suing the government over the contract taken out because of coronavirus, estimate the masks cost more than £150m.

Court papers show Ayanda was awarded a £252.5m contract on 29 April – with £41.25m payable on commencement to secure the manufacturing capacity.

The firm also supplied 150 million masks of another type, which the government says are unaffected but will be subject to further testing before any are released for use in the NHS.

Jolyon Maugham, director of the Good Law Project, said the contract has “revealed a real cause for alarm”.

He questioned: “What other failures remain undiscovered?”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said on a visit to north Wales: “For months we were told that the government was purchasing the right equipment for the front line. Yet again it hasn’t happened.

“There needs now to be an investigation, an inquiry, into what went wrong with this particular contract because it’s just not good enough to people who need that protective equipment that we find ourselves in this position.”

A UK government spokesman said: “Throughout this global pandemic, we have been working tirelessly to deliver PPE to protect people on the front line.

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