A Tory-linked firm behind a coronavirus test recalled over "contaminated" swabs will keep its Government testing contract, the Mirror has learned.
Ministers are under pressure to explain why Randox Laboratories is being “rewarded for failure” after care homes and members of the public were told to "quarantine and return" as many as 741,000 test kits.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) this week announced the recall of tests supplied by Randox, which had been sent to care homes and for at-home testing, over concerns swabs included in the kits may not be sterile.
They said the recall is a precautionary measure, the risk to safety is low, and test results from the kits are not affected.
The firm, which has Tory MP and former minister Owen Paterson on the payroll as an advisor, was handed a £133m contract to supply tests to the UK's test and trace programme in May, without any other firm being given the chance to bid for the contract.
There's no suggestion of any wrongdoing in how the contract was awarded.
Randox has claimed to supply 17% of the UK's coronavirus tests, though a DHSC source said the true figure is nearer 8%.
DHSC said they recalled the tests, after pausing their use last month, because Randox were unable to provide safety documentation for one of their suppliers.
The Mirror understands some swabs had a "CE" mark on them, but Randox failed to provide the government with certification to prove the mark was legitimate.
DHSC has suspended the part of Randox’s contract which supplies swab test kits - but the government will still use the firm’s laboratories for coronavirus testing.
Mr Paterson's late wife, Rose Paterson, was chair of Aintree racecourse and a senior board member of the Jockey Club.
Randox is a major sponsor of both the Jockey Club and the Grand National, Aintree's signature race.
Mr Paterson has not appeared in public or in Parliament since the sudden death of his wife in June.
Test and Trace chief Dido Harding is also a member of the Jockey Club board, and was a close friend of Mrs Paterson.
There's no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of Rose Paterson, Dido Harding or the Jockey Club.
A DHSC spokesperson said: “We have high safety standards for all coronavirus tests. Following the pausing of the ‘Randox COVID- 19 Home Testing Kit’ on 15 July, Randox have now recalled the testing kit as a precautionary measure.
“Our testing support for care homes continues as any resident or member of staff with symptoms can immediately access a free test and we are exploring ways to increase the amount of testing, making full use of available lab capacity.”
A spokesperson for Randox said it had been the firm's decision to recall the test kits.
They said: "On 15th July DHSC placed these kits on hold due to the absence of swab certification from an external supplier.
"To date, Randox have not been provided with evidence to satisfactorily support the CE marking for these swabs.
"So, noting the lack of CE certification by the supplier and that some kits remain in the field at this time Randox has, as a regulatory measure, initiated the recall of those kits used within the National Testing Programme."