Government had planned to ask for permission to appeal the ruling but last night decided this wouldn’t be wise and withdrew, belatedly accepting their conduct over the Public First contract had been unlawful.
They did however still attempt to argue in Court today at the costs hearing that we hadn’t won on every ground in our challenge, so the Court should make a costs order which reflects the ‘relative success of both parties’. Yet however Government try to spin this ruling in the press, the Judge today was crystal clear as to who won this case:
“In this case, it is clear to the court that the claimant (Good Law Project) was the overall successful party in the case…it sought a ruling that the decision to award the contract to Public First was unlawful, and the Court has made a ruling to that effect. Also, it was successful in defeating the Defendant’s arguments about standing.”
This second article from 9th June gives you more info on the Court Case.
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, instructed by Rook Irwin Sweeney. And of course to the tens of thousands of people whose financial contributions make litigation like this possible.
The Liberty Beacon Project is now expanding at a near exponential rate, and for this we are grateful and excited! But we must also be practical. For 7 years we have not asked for any donations, and have built this project with our own funds as we grew. We are now experiencing ever increasing growing pains due to the large number of websites and projects we represent. So we have just installed donation buttons on our websites and ask that you consider this when you visit them. Nothing is too small. We thank you for all your support and your considerations … (TLB)
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