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Former serie and neighbor Matt Hancock, who has secured a lucrative job producing millions of vials for NHS Covid testing, is under investigation by UK healthcare regulators, Guardian can say.

Alex Bourne, who ran Cock Inn near the health secretary’s old ward home in Thurlow, built test tubes in a job of about 30 meters, despite having no prior experience in the medical device industry.

Before the pandemic, his company, Hinpack, created plastic cups and take-out boxes for the food industry. It now supplies tens of millions of vials at the production site at the industrial potato farm complex in Cambridgeshire.

The Drug and Medical Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) has confirmed that it has initiated an investigation into the Bournes company. Graeme Tunbridge, Head of Devices at MHRA, takes all reports of non-compliance very seriously. We are currently investigating allegations against Hinpack and will take appropriate action if necessary. Patient safety is our top priority.

The Guardian understands that the MHRA investigation began around the end of January after some of the reported concerns about sanitation and safety standards were passed by officers of the Southern Cambridgeshire District Council. Through his attorney, Bourne said he was unaware of the MHRA investigation and that he had not been contacted by regulatory agencies.

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Bourne made headlines last year after the Guardian said it provided a service to respond to the pandemic through a personal WhatsApp message he sent to Hancock, whom he had known for years.

Bourne and his wife previously ran a village pub in Thurlow, hundreds of yards from the old old house in Hancocks. The Minister of the Conservative Party was an advocate of the bar, attended the reopening after opening in 2016 and nominated for the 2017 award.

Attorney Bournes, who contacted again in November, initially denied that the client had no discussions with Hancock regarding Covid-19 supplies. Bourne later backtracked and told Guardian that he had actually exchanged text and email messages with Hancock for months.

However, he flatly denied that he had benefited from personal contact with Hancock, and the DHSC said there was no evidence to support the claim that he was favored.

The Bournes company supplies test tubes through a large distributor of medical products contracted with DHSC.

His attorneys said he previously had no experience in the highly regulated medical supplies industry, but he was involved with a partner company that hired professionals with relevant experience and qualifications. They emphasized that the medical devices Hinpack manufactures are by no means complex and fit well into the customer’s existing technology.

However, the information provided to Guardian by the MHRA investigation and well-located sources raises questions about whether he is in compliance with appropriate regulatory standards.

Bourne created a medical treatment facility that installs an inflatable clean room on the building of an industrial farm owned by artisan Robert Smith, one of the supermarket’s leading potato suppliers.

Sources claim that there were months in the early days of operation when Hinpack production workers did not have a permanent toilet or could not use hand washable water.

According to sources, workers were also accused of not following strict hygiene regulations when entering air-inflated rooms and not changing protective clothing appropriately when taking a break. For some time, workers have been using outdoor portable toilets with no handwashing facilities, sources added.

Attorney Bournes insisted that all of these claims are not true and may have been made maliciously. They insisted that work clothes should always be properly thrown away, and running water and toilet facilities were available to staff who were fully aware of strict hygiene protocols.

Lawyers added that MHRA previously approved and inspected Hinpacks products and work practices.

Another complaint is related to the burning of waste. One source with direct knowledge of Hinpacks operations said that the company repeatedly burned waste last fall.

In October, during an unconnected visit to other parts of the farm site, the Environment Agency (EA) recorded evidence of Hinpack’s waste burning. We have issued guidance to Bourne, but have stated that we will not take further action unless it happens again.

In November, residents reported that more trash was burned on site. EA said that this report did not contain enough details to identify the responsible company.

However, artisans Bournes later wrote to the residents to solve the problem of burning garbage.

In the letter, he explained that his son-in-law had originally searched another production site, and had not been able to find an alternative, so he asked him to literally move into our building. Alex was convinced that he would not burn trash on site. future.

Bournes lawyers argued that the November report on commercial waste incineration was not true and was the result of malicious complaints.

Meanwhile, conservative Richard Williams, local Thriplow lawmaker, has asked the South Cambridgeshire council to investigate whether a plan violation has been committed on-site.

There is debate over whether new consent is required for certain buildings and structures on the site, but Bournes attorney admits that planning permits are required for parking lots used by Hinpack shift workers. They added that they are in the process of applying for it.

When asked at a Downing Street press conference in December about Bournes’ work to produce vials, Hancock replied: I have nothing to do with that contract.

However, questions remain about the relationship between the two. Locals described Bourne and Hancock as friends and friends. DHSC said it would not comment on the Secretary of State’s personal relationship, and Bourne weakened its relationship with Hancock.

Earlier this month, an image that showed Hancock had a picture of a Bournes old pub on the wall in a room in his house where he was occasionally doing live TV interviews, made word of mouth.

Matt Hancock is doing a TV interview, and a picture of the Cock Inn hangs on his wall. Composite: Handout

It turns out that a family member, the homeowner of Vesteys, Hancocks’ former precinct home, recently bought a house in Bourne, London.

While Hancock rented a Vestey family Thurlow house, he charged for rent at the cost of MPs hundreds of yards away from Cock Inn. Robin Vestey bought a 1.2m London home last November from Bourne and his wife family. There are no hints of wrongdoing.

Bourne’s lawyers said that Vestey bought a London home because Vestey lived nearby and loved it. They said Vestey wasn’t involved in any Bournes Covid-related project. Vestey did not respond to requests for comment.

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