BREAKING: The High Court has ruled Michael Gove broke the law in handing a public contract to associates of his and Dominic Cummings at Public First.

The Court ruled a reasonable observer would think there was a real risk they won the contract because of favouritism.
The High Court found: "the existence of personal connections between (Michael Gove), Mr Cummings and the directors of Public First was a relevant circumstance that might be perceived to compromise their impartiality and independence..."
The Judge continued: "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).
Emails between civil servants revealed in the course of our legal action revealed both Michael Gove and No 10 wanted contracts to be awarded to Public First:
Gove tried to argue only Public First could do the work. However, the High Court held that "does not stand up to scrutiny" and "the time constraints...did not exonerate (him) from conducting the procurement so as to demonstrate a fair and impartial process of selection".
This is the second decision in Good Law Project's 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.
We are grateful to our excellent legal team: Jason Coppel QC + Patrick Halliday of 11KBW, + @ris_law who acted as solicitors.

And to the thousands of you whose financial contributions make this possible.

We are the arrow but you draw the bow.

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More from @GoodLawProject

25 May
🚨 The final day of our High Court hearing over huge PPE contracts to firms with no prior experience and the 'VIP lane' is underway. 🚨

It begins with Government trying to submit new evidence... at what some might say is a rather late stage in proceedings🧐
The Judge has refused the application on the basis that the evidence comes too late and effectively provides a "moving target" for us and @EveryDoctorUK. Which is simply not fair in a hearing of this kind.
Government lawyer tells the Court that the offers on the High Priority Lane tended on average to be better, bigger offers, so they had an advantage because of their nature.

Judge asks if there is any evidence on this
Read 16 tweets
24 May
Day 4 of our legal challenge over PPE contracts and preferential treatment to 'VIPs' is now underway. Today, Government's lawyers will set out their defence.

Here's our recap on what's happened so far:
Michael Bowsher QC, barrister for the Government, tells the Court that Government has never said this was a perfect procurement. Acknowledge that "this was a procurement conducted in a particular context of stress".
Government claiming "all the High Priority Lane was was a different route into the decision-making process...It is not apparent that these contracts benefited..." 🧐

But emails from civil servants show otherwise - VIPs got quicker response times, 'handholding' and escalation:
Read 12 tweets
20 May
💥 UK government told PPE deals were lined up with ‘bribes’ in China | Evening Standard

Follow the updates from day 3 of 5 in the High Court - from 10.30am.…

First update - the Press Association have submitted an application in support of our request for the total amount of public money Government wasted on PPE not fit for purpose to be unredacted and released from the confidentiality ring.
JCQC: Perfectly understandable to prioritise large companies offering large volumes of certain material, or any volume of urgently needed material, but it's not justifiable to select for negotiation somebody who’s a contact of a minister. That shouldn’t be a ground for selection
Read 11 tweets
19 May
🚨 Day 2 of our High Court hearing over the PPE procurement scandal has begun 🚨

Starting with Ayanda - the hedge fund with political connections awarded £252 million worth of contracts and put through the 'VIP Lane'. THREAD ⬇️…
The contract with Ayanda resulted from communications from Mr Mills, a former advisor to the Department for International Trade. Their allocation to the VIP lane worked as follows:
As soon as Ayanda was allocated to the VIP lane, an individual pseudonymised as “1U” put pressure on an official to deal with it as quickly as possible: “This is likely to get escalated to Ministerial level in next 20 mins or so.”
Read 28 tweets
19 May
Government has consistently said that although ministers could refer offers from people to supply PPE, they were not involved in the award of contracts.

We've uncovered Whatsapps showing Ministers “lobbied” officials to chase the progress of VIP contracts…
One WhatsApp shows an official saying that if they had a tracking system for PPE offers from companies referred by ministers, MPs or civil servants, it would save the procurement team from “being lobbied further by ministers/VIPs etc and the like”.
Internal documents released as part of our legal action reveal that Ayanda, a “family office” finance house, was awarded two PPE contracts for a total £252m having been referred to the VIP lane. Its representative, Andrew Mills, was an adviser to Liz Truss, the trade secretary.
Read 5 tweets
18 May
TODAY: we’re in Court battling Government over millions of pounds of unusable PPE and the fast track ‘VIP lane’ for political connections.

They’d rather we weren’t paying attention. Help spread the word.
And we're off! Our 5 day High Court hearing starts here.

Read our skeleton argument and follow our live updates from day 1 in court here ⬇️
Our barrister Jason Coppel QC tells the Court: "In a transparency case the parties should not be prohibited from mentioning the amount of public money wasted on a contract for no good reason of sensitivity."
Read 19 tweets

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