The government's award of a contract worth >£500k to Public First Ltd to conduct focus groups was unlawful on the ground of apparent bias.
The govt was entitled, in the exceptional circs of a pandemic, to award the contract directly i.e. without notice or competition, but the absence of competition made it all the more important for the govt to use a fair process for selecting Public First.
The govt did not properly consider whether other providers could have done the work, and its failure to do so would cause a fair-minded observer to conclude there was a real risk that the award of the contract to Public First was biased.
The court stressed that there was no suggestion that Dominic Cummings was actually biased by virtue of his long-standing friendships with the directors of Public First.

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