Strathclyde Police have asked Greater Glasgow Health Board to pull out of a patient transport contract as the firm has links to serious organised crime. The Glasgow Herald reports that the taxi firm, Network Private Hire, was raided in 2004 as part of the Operation Maple money-laundering probe.
The Scottish National Party MSP, Stewart Maxwell, has said that he will introduce an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill to close the loophole which allows firms with links to organised crime to benefit from public contracts. In fact, the legislation which governs public procurement in Scotland (Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006), already includes provisions for treating a company as ineligible to tender if their directors have been convicted of certain offences, including money laundering.
The problem in this situation seems to be that because the case is still running, the directors of Network Private Hire haven’t been convicted. On the basis that someone is innocent until proven guilty, it clearly presents a problem to barr them from participation in a public contract as they may be acquitted. Yet the firm apparently has links to the notorious McGovern family and Strathclyde Police are obviously convinced that they are guilty, otherwise they wouldn’t have written to the health board.
The Herald also reports that the Health Board tender did not include a requirement for the taxi’s to be licensed or stranger still that they didn’t require that they should be wheelchair accessible.