Ministry Of Justice Denies Conflict Of Interest Over Prisons Contract

Bidding war won by company with former prisons chief on its board.
Sir Martin Narey was director general of the Prison Service.
Sir Martin Narey was director general of the Prison Service.
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A company which has a former government adviser on its board won a £900,000 contract from the Ministry of Justice last year.

Unilink, which lists ex-Barnardo’s chief executive and former Prison Service director general Sir Martin Narey as one of its non-executive members, was paid by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to pilot ‘in-cell technology’ at 20 prisons across the country.

Narey was also on the board of the Ministry of Justice at the time - a position which he later resigned.

Unilink, which provides software for prisons and secure establishments, was also paid £500,000 in the 2015/16 for its services in the 2015/15 financial year, according to the annual NOMS report.

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A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Following an open and transparent tender, Unilink was awarded a contract to pilot in-cell technology at 20 prisons across the public sector.

“All contract awards follow strict civil service procurement guidelines and are thoroughly scrutinised to ensure there is no conflict of interest during the procurement process.”

Narey, a former adviser to Michael Gove, was appointed as an MoJ board member in August 2015, but resigned his position earlier than expected in June this year.

He was the prison service boss between 1998 and 2003, during which time he was credited with “invoking moral principles rather than security concerns when articulating the service’s priorities”, before becoming the first ever chief executive of the NOMS itself.

He was named in the 2013 New Year’s Honours list for “services to vulnerable people”.


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