Paul Corrigan

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Prof Paul Corrigan is the former chief architect of New Labour's NHS reforms, bringing greater private sector involvement into the Health Service. He was until recently the Chairman and Chief Executive of the NHS foundation trust regulator Monitor. In March 2010, Corrigan co-authored a report - Future Foundations: towards a new culture in the NHS - for the right wing think tank Policy Exchange.

Corrigan and Cherie Blair sleaze

A Mail on Sunday investigation has revealed how the Prime Minister's wife arranged for the directors of a private medical firm to be given exclusive access to Downing Street's top adviser on health.

Last night, the Conservatives announced they would be writing to Cabinet Secretary Gus O"Donnell to demand an investigation into the extent to which Mrs Blair has been 'abusing' her husband's office to help her friends.

Leaked e-mails reveal that one of the businessmen who attended the meeting with No10's health tsar Paul Corrigan last month is the boyfriend of Mrs Blair's fixer and close confidante Martha Greene.

Jonathan Metliss, who has been with Ms Greene for more than a year, is a director of a healthcare firm which already has an £8million Government contract to operate the UK's first-ever privately-run NHS walk-in health centre - and is bidding to open more. Mr Metliss and Harry Hyman, his boss at the Nexus healthcare group, were able to lobby Prof Corrigan for more than an hour during their breakfast meeting at London's Cinnamon Club.

Prof Corrigan is the chief architect of the latest New Labour NHS reforms, bringing greater private sector involvement into the Health Service. He is the husband of Labour's Chief Whip Hilary Armstrong. After the meeting, Prof Corrigan promised to put Mr Metliss and Mr Hyman in touch with the NHS's commercial director, Ken Anderson.

The talks were arranged in April, when Mrs Blair used a senior secretary in the Downing Street policy unit to contact Mr Hyman.

The e-mail from Catherine Garwood, created on the Downing Street corporate server "No10.x.gsi.', is dated April 28, 2006 and reads: "I understand that you have recently met with Mrs Blair. Following that, she has asked if Paul Corrigan, as the Prime Minister's Senior Policy Adviser on health issues, could meet with you to discuss primary care.

"Paul would be pleased if you could have breakfast with him one morning at the Cinnamon Club."

Ms Garwood, who has since left Downing Street, then suggested three alternative dates which Prof Corrigan could make. Two months later, the final meeting date of June 13 was confirmed by another Downing Street official, Liane Dalley, PA to Mr Blair's principal private secretary.

Ms Dalley confirmed that it was taking place at the suggested venue and that the table had been booked under Prof Corrigan's name.

The commercial nature of the meeting is confirmed by an e-mail from Mr Metliss to the health tsar later the same day. Mr Metliss wrote: "I thought it was a more than useful chat and, hopefully, Nexus can be of some assistance to you in your various activities in the health sector."


His boss, Mr Hyman, later credited both Mr Metliss and Ms Greene for arranging the exclusive access to the health adviser - a clear intimation that they were the ones who persuaded Mrs Blair to use her influence.

In an e-mail to Mr Metliss, also on the same date as the breakfast meeting, he wrote: "Thanks for arranging through Martha the meeting with Professor Paul Corrigan this morning."

Mr Hyman also e-mailed Prof Corrigan to say: "It was very good to have such a wide-ranging discussion and for us to explain some of the frustrations that we feel in terms of helping to deliver the radical changes that APMS [Alternative Provider Medical Services] and the other reforms are bringing the Health Service.

"We are very keen to help get the change programme delivered and I look forward to following up with Ken Anderson as we talked about." A former advertising executive, Martha Greene, 50, has acted as an agent for Mrs Blair on her controversial speaking tours. She was also a go-between in the £3.6million purchase of the Blairs' Connaught Square home and helped to design Mrs Blair's fitness regime.

Critics will point to the fact that this is not the first time that Mrs Blair has been guilty of poor judgment. She previously sparked the so-called Cheriegate scandal by using Peter Foster, the convicted fraudster boyfriend of her former key adviser Carole Caplin, to help with the purchase of two flats in Bristol.

The rules of the Westminster register of members' interests state that the interests of 'spouses, partners, and dependent children' must be declared if they 'arise out of a relative's position'.

Since there is no evidence that Mrs Blair is benefiting herself through providing the Nexus group with exclusive access to the Government's health tsar, she has not broken this code.

However, MPs who have been critical of her past activities are unlikely to be happy that she is 'demeaning' No10 to help the boyfriend of Ms Greene.

Chris Graying, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, said: "I will be writing to Mr O"Donnell on Monday. A member of the Prime Minister's family should not be using civil servants for any purpose. They are there to serve the Government, not members of Mr Blair's family.

"They should not be getting the Civil Service to arrange meetings for businessmen with members of the Government. This should not happen and the fact that the documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday show it did happen is very worrying."

Inquiries by The Mail on Sunday show that Mrs Blair has clearly warmed to Mr Metliss, despite his background as a supporter of the Conservative Party.

The lawyer, who sits on the executive board of Conservative Friends of Israel, has become a regular guest at Downing Street.

Last month, he watched the Trooping of the Colour from No10 at Mrs Blair's invitation - remarking to her afterwards that he would try to get tickets for her and the Prime Minister to join him in watching England's cricket team at the World Cup in the Caribbean.

Last night, a Downing Street spokeswoman confirmed that there had been a meeting between Prof Corrigan and the Nexus Group, but denied any wrongdoing on the part of Mrs Blair.

She said: "Paul Corrigan took no action following the meeting and did not offer to put them in contact with anyone.

"It is part of Paul's job to engage with stakeholders in the NHS to see if business can provide new ways of working that will improve efficiency or patient care.

"He meets dozens of businessmen involved in healthcare in the course of his working week.

"There appears to have been a misunderstanding. In fact, Mrs Blair has never met Mr Hyman and it was Paul Corrigan who asked his secretary to set up the meeting."

Asked about the meeting, Mr Metliss said: "I don't know what you are talking about." Mr Hyman declined to comment. [1]


  1. ^ Dennis Rice 'Cherie Blair at centre of NHS sleaze row' Mail on Sunday 22:29pm 15th July 2006