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Another sleaze story. Huge contract go's to Gill Rider who just happens to work for Gordon Brown.

Gosh it must of been all of a whole day or two since the last one.

No surprise that Arthue Anderson/Accenture have their fingers in this pie, they were in the old De Lorean story years back and barred from any government work by the Tories under Thatcher.

I wonder if Lord Fondlebum is going to get involved in this one? Or that other fine upstanding peer lord E-Mailer of Amstrad.

A legal battle was looming last night over the £400million contract to produce new hi-tech passports.

A losing bidder is threatening action over the fact that one of Gordon Brown's senior mandarins is a director of the firm which won the contract.

Gill Rider, a leading member of the Cabinet Office, not only directs the hiring of senior civil servants but is also director of De La Rue printers, which last week secured the job of producing biometric passports.

Rival firm 3M, furious that its bid was rejected, is considering a legal challenge based on potential conflict of interest.

Miss Rider, 54, the £200,000-a-year Cabinet Office director general of leadership and people strategy, was in charge of civil service recruitment when two of her former colleagues were appointed to top jobs in the newly created Identity and Passport Service.

She was also a board member of De La Rue when the bidding for the passports began, would be jailed for six months unless he gave a full disclosure of his finances by September and although she briefly stepped down from the printing firm, she returned on the very day it was awarded the £400million contract last week.

A senior source at 3M Security Printing and Systems Ltd, an American-owned company headed by Yorkshireman George Buckley, said: 'We have been advised by the Identity and Passport Service of their decision, but we have concerns about the decision making process. We are actively considering whether a legal challenge is merited.'

Another source at 3M, which produces sensitive social security forms for the Government, said: 'Our chief executive is spitting bullets over this.

'The award of this massive contract stinks to high heaven - and Gill Rider has a lot of questions to answer.'

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