Yesterday, Matt Hancock brazenly rationalised his own breaches of transparency law as merely “technical".

This line had not gone down well when Hancock’s barrister tried it out with the High Court...THREAD…
What does “technical” mean, asked the Judge?

Nothing, said Philip Moser QC - barrister for the Secretary of State.
In his judgment, the Judge decried the Government's use of “technical” as an:

“attempt to suggest, contrary to the fact, that the breaches were trivial or that they had occurred in an insubstantial number of cases.”
It wouldn’t work for you or us if we tried to say it was 'a technical' breach with a traffic cop. And it didn’t play for Hancock before the High Court either.
We all stand equal - Member of Parliament and member of the public alike - before the law.

Respect for the law is not the only orthodoxy this Government has sacrificed - transparency, too, has fallen by the wayside...
The declaration from the High Court is hugely significant - if Government continues to fail to publish contract details within the legal timeframe it is doing so in full knowledge it is breaching the law, and hindering scrutiny:
The Judge was clear: "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."
And that scrutiny of where public money was going was prevented: if the publication had been on time we "would have been able to scrutinise CANs and contract provisions, ask questions about them and raise any issues with oversight bodies such as the NAO or via MPs in Parliament".

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More from @GoodLawProject

23 Feb
BREAKING: the Court has granted a cost-capping order in our judicial review with @EveryDoctorUK over the award of huge PPE contracts without competition to Ayanda, Pestfix and Clandeboye. THREAD…
In awarding the cost-capping order, the Judge seemed to agree:

“All citizens are likely to have an interest in whether or not the procurement on the part of the government is done using good governance procedures and integrity."
The Judge continued: "And therefore there is a real wider public interest that has been represented by the claimant group, which is a not-for-profit group, in bringing this challenge”
Read 6 tweets
19 Feb
BREAKING: WE’VE WON - High Court rules Government acted unlawfully by failing to publish details of Covid-related contracts.

@Debbie_abrahams @CarolineLucas @LaylaMoran

The High Court has ruled that Government has acted unlawfully by failing to disclose details of Covid-related contracts, in breach of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and its own guidance.

You can read the judgment in full here:
“The Secretary of State acted unlawfully by failing to comply with the Transparency Policy” and “there is now no dispute that, in a substantial number of cases, the SoS breached his legal obligation to publish Contract Award Notices within 30 days of the award of contracts.”
Read 12 tweets
15 Feb
Today is our judicial review hearing over the Government contract awarded to friends of Dominic Cummings at Public First without competition.

We'll be tweeting live from 10.30am.…
We'll be keeping our website updated with the key documents referred to in our barristers' - and the Government's barristers' - submissions. 👇…
And we're off!

Our judicial review over the Government contract awarded to friends of Dominic Cummings at Public First without competition has begun.

You can now read the extraordinary skeleton arguments and witness statements on our website. 👇
Read 30 tweets
3 Feb
Jason Coppel QC is taking the Court through our skeleton argument now: THREAD
“In a claim about the transparency of government spending, the Claimants find it astonishing that the Defendant has filed a statement of costs of over £200,000 for a one-day JR in which a significant part of the breaches alleged are admitted.”
We believe transparency is fundamental to ensuring public money is well spent. The @NAOorguk 'Investigation into Government procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic' backs up our concerns - para 3.24:…
Read 26 tweets
3 Feb 20
Almost a year ago we sued HMRC for failing to assess Uber to - we believe - substantially in excess of £1bn of VAT. /1
After we sued it HMRC asked the High Court for permission to tell us what it then did about Uber's tax bill - permission the High Court gave. /2
Uber appealed and the Court of Appeal has now decided to hear - and expedited - Uber's appeal against the High Court decision. /3
Read 6 tweets
23 May 19
So we sought, have now obtained, and will soon pay for, urgent legal advice from specialist election law Counsel. But the advice, I am afraid, is rather discouraging. THREAD
The starting point is to identify legal failures by the returning officer.

Even this stage of the exercise is likely to be difficult because the returning officer is very likely to have an audit trail justifying their decisions to post on date x or use service y. /1
But it gets worse still. Even if you are able to identify legal failures you then have to show an effect on the outcome of the election for the election to be voided and re-run. /2
Read 8 tweets

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