Exclusive – Department of Health settles out of court with Ken Anderson, their ex Commercial Director

Last year, we picked up on a Daily Mail report that Ken Anderson, the controversial Department of Health (DH) Commercial Director from 2003-7, was being taken to court by the Department. He drove through major changes such as the introduction of Independent Treatment Centres and the outsourcing of NHS Logistics, and was famed for apparently having a “hot-line” to 10 Downing Street and Tony Blair. That, along with considerable personal drive, gave him more power within the Department than perhaps his formal status justified.

He was accused of accepting gifts from suppliers – not big medical firms or anything like that, but rather the professional service providers whose staff he engaged to work in the Commercial Directorate. (The Directorate was staffed at one point almost entirely with 200 consultants and contractors).  As the Mail reported,

A High Court writ issued in the name of Health Secretary Andrew Lansley claims up to £250,000 in damages and compensation from Ken Anderson – the controversial Texan businessman drafted into Whitehall by Tony Blair to encourage more private-sector involvement in the NHS.

The writ claims he was given a Porsche Carrera 911 by a former colleague whose consultancy firm was being paid £1,300 a day by the Department of Health, and a week-long holiday with his three sons in the Turks and Caicos Islands, gifts to which he was not entitled.

On Friday, the Department of Health slipped out a short statement:

The Secretary of State for Health and Ken Anderson confirm that the civil proceedings brought by the Secretary of State against Mr Anderson have been settled on confidential terms with no admission of liability by Mr Anderson.

What can we read into that? Does “settled” suggest a payment has been made by Mr Anderson? If there wasn’t a payment, I would have expected the announcement to be more of an exoneration - “DH withdraws their claim” etc?

“No admission of liability” is pretty standard terminology, often (but not necessarily) used in cases where some financial settlement is made.

I know senior staff in DH who were personally horrified by the allegations and were very keen to pursue the truth. If “settled” suggests a significant payment has been made, then I guess those executives will  feel somewhat vindicated, although I think some wanted to see Anderson in court. He's a banker now, incidentally - Vice Chairman of the UBS Global Health Team no less, according to LinkedIn.

But this resolution is all a bit unsatisfactory, really. Not knowing the truth of what were very serious accusations, made against one of the UK's most influential and high-profile procurement leaders of the last decade....  It's a bit like me ending this by suggesting that Anderson was, in fact

No comments I'm afraid for legal reasons!


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