Public money for political gain
Government has now sent us its published guidance which you can see here.
We do not believe this goes far enough. However, we no longer believe we can succeed in addressing it with litigation. In the circumstances, we have written to Simon Case, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, urging him to issue clear and practical guidance.
We prefer not to raise money for litigation that it is not prudent to pursue so we have now closed this crowdfunder. The surplus on this litigation will be hypothecated to other challenges seeking to protect the country against the misuse of public money and other public governance breaches.
We are very grateful for your continuing support.
Boris Johnson hijacked a Downing Street press conference - paid for by the British taxpayer and intended to provide the public with a vital COVID-19 update - to attack one of his political opponents.
Whilst shocking, it’s not the first incident of its kind. Over the last few weeks we’ve seen a worrying trend of Government videos and social media content being misappropriated to advance Conservative Party political messaging. We believe the costs are coming out of the public purse, not the party coffers.
Take this Government video. It carries the distinct look and feel of a party political broadcast, brandishing the Tory electoral slogan “Build Back Better”, but prominently using the No 10 crest. And when you compare this No 10 branded image alongside the Conservative Party website, it’s virtually impossible to distinguish which is Government policy and which is party political campaigning.
Government is legally required to publish - and follow - a policy to ensure a clear dividing line between informative communications, which can be funded by taxpayers, and electoral communications, which are governed by strict campaign finance rules. Without such a policy, those in power could simply divert the resources of the state to hold onto power.
We can find no evidence that such a policy exists. So far, Government has chosen to ignore our lawyers' requests to provide us with a copy. The British public should not be paying to further the electoral ambitions of the Conservative Party. We have now issued the first step in legal proceedings. The Pre-Action Protocol letter can be found here.
Good Law Project has instructed Bhatt Murphy in this case. Dan Squires QC from Matrix and Shu Shin Luh and Alice Irving from Doughty St Chambers are acting as Counsel.
If you are in a position to support the legal challenge, you can do so here.