Ciga Healthcare are based in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. Pre pandemic they specialised in diagnostic tests, with Suresign pregnancy kits one of their main products.
This has always been one of my favourite Tory Covid contract stories, belt in for this one!
Ciga Healthcare were awarded two contracts by the DHSC, both to supply Rapid Antibody Tests. The awards were made on the 20th March 2020, both without competition. The awards were not published until January 2021. The actual contracts are missing from Contracts Finder. Total value was £5.3 million and they ran from 20th March to 15th July 2020.
On the 30th March 2020, DHSC spend shows a payment of £6.62 million to Ciga Healthcare. I assume this is the contract award plus VAT. It was one of the first Covid contracts awarded and as Ciga Healthcare are a diagnostics test supplier, it would seem to make sense. The connections to the Tories though are mind blowing!
Ciga Healthcare at the time was owned by Irwin Armstrong. Ciga Healthcare Holdings & Ciga Healthcare LLC were part owned by Armstrong, along with investors Toby & Catherine Baxendale. So who is Armstrong & who are the Baxendale's?
Irvwin Armstrong is the honorary Vice President of the Northern Ireland branch of the Tory Party, he was previously the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Tories. You may know him better from this clip! He is the man who asks Boris Johnson the question, in this much viewed and vaunted Brexit video, which was filmed at a meeting of the Northern Ireland Tories.
Catherine Baxendale was on the selection panel for the appointment of Richard Sharp as the BBC Chairman & was shortlisted to be a Tory parliamentary candidate for the Hitchin & Harpdenden constituency in 2017, losing out to Bim Afolami.
Toby Baxendale is a director of Legatum Institute Foundation, The founders of the Legatum Institute think tank. Toby was a director at the incorporation of another think tank, the Cobden Centre, alongside Tory MP Steve Baker & latterly with brexiteer & ex Tory MEP Daniel Hannan. He is also a director of the Church Revitalisation Trust alongside brexiteer & Hedge Fund owner Paul Marshall.
Both Toby & Catherine have also both donated 50k each to the Tories as part of Cameron's leaders group. Yet another contract award that highlights the many contracts awarded to UK companies early in the pandemic having links to the Tories.
One footnote was that Ciga Healthcare were also involved in the Operation Moonshot. That is a story still to be told.