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Government loses court case

February 20, 2021 1:26 PM

kkcf6Over the past few months we have, on a number of occasions, drawn attention to the chumocracy whereby friends of the Conservative Party appear to be given preference in contracts and appointments ( see http://southsuffolklibdems.org.uk/en/article/2021/1391889/more-contracts-for-tory-donors-and-colleagues and http://southsuffolklibdems.org.uk/en/article/2020/1383943/which-way-to-the-fast-track for examples)

In the High court yesterday, Health secretary Matt Hancock was found to have acted unlawfully by handing out coronavirus contracts without publishing details in a timely way.The Judge found that Mr Hancock should have complied with government transparency principles requiring the publication of details of contracts within 30 days. And he said in his ruling that the health secretary had spent £207,000 of taxpayers' money fighting the case. He continued "The Secretary of State spent vast quantities of public money on pandemic-related procurements during 2020. The public were entitled to see who this money was going to, what it was being spent on and how the relevant contracts were awarded."

"Judge Chamberlain also stated that the admission of breach by government was 'secured as a result of this litigation and at a late stage of it' and 'I have no doubt that this claim has speeded up compliance'.

The Good Law Project and MPs Debbie Abrahams (Labour), Caroline Lucas (Green) and Layla Moran (Lib Dem) brought the judicial review in relation to contracts worth £252m to Ayanda Capital, £108m to Clandeboye Agencies and £313m to Pestfix in April last year.

They said that Ayanda was a tiny company created by an associate of a minister which had been given preferential "VIP lane" treatment in award of the contract, and that £160m worth of the masks provided were unusable.

Clandeboye had only previously supplied confectionary, while Pestfix - which also benefited from the VIP lane - had never before supplied medical PPE,

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We have been working tirelessly to deliver what is needed to protect our health and social care staff throughout this pandemic, within very short timescales and against a background of unparalleled global demand..

This urgency may explain why not all of the money was effectively spent but not why publication of contracts were delayed until the case was bought