High Court 'stuffs' the Government yet again !!!

Discussion in 'Latest News' started by Vladimir Illich, Jun 9, 2021 at 4:56 AM.

  1. Vladimir Illich

    Vladimir Illich Supporters Lifetime Supporter HipForums Supporter

    Those lying, conniving, thieving scumbags in the 'nasty party' have just lost yet another court case to the the Good Law Project - this I think makes the fourth case that bastard Boris and his cronies have lost this year !!!

    Decision to give Government contract to Cummings’ friends was unlawful – judge

    Brian Farmer
    9 June 2021, 11:27 am

    A Government decision to award a contract to a company whose bosses were friends of adviser Dominic Cummings was unlawful, a High Court judge has ruled.

    Campaigners took legal action against the Cabinet Office over the decision to pay more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money to market research firm Public First, following the start of the coronavirus crisis in March 2020, and questioned the involvement of Mr Cummings.

    Lawyers representing the Good Law Project said Mr Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s then-chief adviser, wanted focus group and communications support services work to be given to a company whose bosses were his friends.

    Ministers, and Mr Cummings – who left Downing Street late in 2020 – disputed the Good Law Project’s claim.

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    Mrs Justice O’Farrell, who is based in London, considered rival arguments at a virtual High Court hearing in February and delivered a ruling on Wednesday.

    She said: “The claimant is entitled to a declaration that the decision of 5 June 2020 to award the contract to Public First gave rise to apparent bias and was unlawful.”

    Good Law Project director Jo Maugham said: “This is not government for the public good – it is government for the good of friends of the Conservative Party.

    “We just don’t understand how the Prime Minister can run a Cabinet that acts without proper regard for the law or value for public money.

    “Government has claimed there was no favouritism in the awarding of contracts. But the High Court has held an informed observer would conclude otherwise.”
    A spokesman for Public First said: “We’re deeply proud of the work we did in the early stages of the pandemic, which helped save lives.

    “The judge rejected most of the Good Law Project’s claims, not finding actual bias in the awarding of this work, nor any problems with the pace or scale of the award.

    “Rather, the judge found that weak internal processes gave rise to the appearance of bias. The judge made no criticism whatsoever of Public First anywhere in the judgment.”

    Lawyers representing the Good Law Project told Mrs Justice O’Farrell that a “fair-minded” and “informed” observer would conclude there was a “real possibility of bias”, and argued that the decision was unlawful.

    Lawyers representing the Cabinet Office told the judge that Mr Cummings made a recommendation, not a decision, and the Good Law Project’s claim should be dismissed.

    They said that, during a national emergency, Mr Cummings “recommended a firm he knew could get the job done”.

    Mr Cummings said he “obviously” did not ask for Public First to be brought in because they were friends.

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    Barrister Jason Coppel QC, who represented the Good Law Project, had told the judge: “Public First was awarded this contract because Dominic Cummings wanted Public First to have this contract.

    “No other provider was considered.”

    Mr Coppel said more than £500,000 had been spent and told the judge it was “not strictly necessary” to award the contract to Public First without competition.

    He said the current minister for the Cabinet Office is Michael Gove.

    Mr Coppel said Public First is a “small research agency” whose directors and owners are Rachel Wolf and her husband, James Frayne.

    He said the couple have “long-standing personal relationships” with both Mr Cummings and Mr Gove.

    Mr Coppel added: “The fair-minded and informed observer would conclude that there was a real possibility of bias: it was Mr Cummings who decided, without giving any consideration to alternative providers, that work valued at hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money should be given to his friends.”

    Mr Cummings did not give evidence at the hearing but outlined his position in a written witness statement seen by the judge.

    He said the country was facing an emergency because of the coronavirus crisis and “the award of the contract without delay” was “entirely justified”.

    The judge said in her ruling: “The fair-minded and informed observer would have appreciated that there was an urgent need for research through focus groups on effective communications in response to the Covid-19 crisis and that those research services were required immediately.

    “The fair-minded and informed observer would have appreciated that it was vital that the results and conclusions from the research were reliable and that Mr Cummings was uniquely placed, given his experience and expertise, to form a rapid view on which organisation might best be able to deliver those urgent requirements.

    “His professional and personal connections with Public First did not preclude him from making an impartial assessment in this regard.”

    She went on: “However, the defendant’s failure to consider any other research agency, by reference to experience, expertise, availability or capacity, would lead a fair-minded and informed observer to conclude that there was a real possibility, or a real danger, that the decision-maker was biased.

    “(The) claimant has established its case that the circumstances in which the contract was awarded to Public First gave rise to apparent bias.”

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    A Good Law Project spokeswoman said: “Michael Gove had tried to argue that only Public First could carry out the contracted work and everyone was acting under pressure.

    “However, the High Court found that version of events ‘does not stand up to scrutiny’ and ‘the time constraints … did not exonerate the defendant from conducting the procurement so as to demonstrate a fair and impartial process of selection’.

    “The truth, it said, is the Cabinet Office didn’t even consider whether to give the contract to anyone else.

    “Emails between civil servants revealed in the course of Good Law Project’s legal action revealed both Michael Gove and No 10 wanted contracts to be awarded to Public First.”

    Good Law Project

    Michael Gove broke the law by giving a contract to a communications agency run by long time associates of him and Dominic Cummings, the High Court has decided.

    The Court found that the decision to award the £560,000 contract to Public First was tainted by “apparent bias” and was unlawful. The Court found that Gove’s:

    “failure to consider any other research agency… would lead a fair minded and informed observer to conclude that there was a real possibility, or a real danger, that the decision maker was biased” (paragraph 168).

    Michael Gove had claimed that the work was such that only Public First could carry it out. However, the High Court rejected that version of events. The simple truth, it held, was that the Cabinet Office didn’t even consider whether anyone else should have the contract.

    The decision vindicates Good Law Project’s long-running characterisation of pandemic procurement as “institutionalised cronyism”.

    Emails released in the case also showed that both Michael Gove and Number 10 were keen that Public First (and Hanbury) should win no-tender polling contracts. Good Law Project’s judicial review of the decision to award a contract to Hanbury will be heard on 26 July.

    The decision is the second in our long slate of crowdfunded procurement judicial reviews – and we have succeeded in both. Two Cabinet Ministers – Michael Gove and Matt Hancock – have now been found to have broken the law.

    Following the first decision, Good Law Project wrote to Matt Hancock making proposals to improve procurement and get better value for money for taxpayers. We offered, if that invitation was accepted, to drop our further procurement challenges to save public money. Mr Hancock did not respond. Since that letter, huge further sums in public money have been wasted in fruitless defence of unlawful conduct.

    Good Law Project repeats its invitation to the Government to learn lessons – and to stop wasting more public money staving off political embarrassment.

    Good Law Project is grateful to its legal team of Jason Coppel QC and Patrick Halliday of 11KBW Chambers, instructed by Rook Irwin Sweeney. And of course to the tens of thousands of people whose financial contributions make litigation like this possible.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021 at 5:07 AM

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