Officials have shown “apparent bias” in their dealings with a company run by associates of Dominic Cummings, a regular judge.
The UK High Court has ruled that the government acted illegally when it awarded a contract to a company run by associates of Dominic Cummings, a former aide to the prime minister.
The court said Wednesday that the government has expressed “apparent prejudice” in allocating more than £ 560,000 ($ 794,000) to Public First to test public opinion on the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The public relations firm, which has conducted research for the government on its public health message surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, is led by James Frayne and his wife Rachel Wolf.
The couple previously worked with Cummings and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.
The Good Law Project (GLP), a campaign group, had carried out a judicial review against the government, saying the contract had been awarded without any competitive bidding in the early stages of the pandemic.
In its decision, Supreme Court Justice Finola O’Farrell concluded that the government’s failure to consider other companies could be seen as indicating a “real danger” of harm.
“The defendant’s inability to consider any other investigative agency, by reference to experience, expertise, availability or ability, would lead a fair and informed observer to conclude that there was a real possibility, or a real danger, that the decision maker was prejudicial, ”he said.
Officials have already refused to show any favoritism towards Public First.
Cummings said it was more important to try to save lives than to make sure all decisions made during the first wave of the pandemic were legitimate in the eyes of the court.
“On this basis the courts [should] rule that many 2020 decisions have also been “illegal” as I and the Cabinet Secretary have repeatedly told officials that they focus on imminent threats to life / destruction, not on trials / lawyers / traces of Potemkin card, ”he tweeted after Wednesday’s decision.
74 / On this basis, the courts will hold that several 2020 decisions were similarly “illegal” as I and the Cabinet Secretary have repeatedly told officials to “focus on imminent threats to life / destruction,” no trial / lawyers / Potemkin paper traces “
– Dominic Cummings (@ Dominic2306) June 9, 2021
A Public First spokesman said the company was proud of the work it has done, adding: “The judge did not make any criticism of Public First anywhere in the courtroom.”
The National Audit Office has previously accused the government of failing to explain why certain suppliers were selected, or how any conflicts of interest were handled, in procurement between March and the end of July for a value. of about £ 18 billion ($ 25 billion).
Opposition politicians have also accused the government of running a “chumocracy” with contracts, including for the purchase of what turned out to be unusable personal protective equipment, and of appointments made to those with family ties or d business to those in power.