Money for Dominic Cummings' mates

Why do so many public contracts end up with friends of Dominic Cummings? Like us, you might have wondered. But, although reporters pick these stories up, nothing ever happens. Well, this time it's different.

On 3 March 2020, the Cabinet Office shook hands with Public First, a small privately held polling company. There was no formal contract, prior advertisement, or competitive tender process. It just made what procurement lawyers call a 'direct award'. It formalised it retrospectively on 5 June 2020 and publicised it a week later. The total contract value is £840,000.

The directors and owners of Public First are Ms Rachel Wolf and Mr James Frayne. They have close connections with both the Minister for the Cabinet Office (the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP) and his long time colleague and Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister who works in the Cabinet Office (Mr Dominic Cummings).

We believe that money for your mates, on a handshake, formalised later, is unlawful. 

This is why Good Law Project has instructed Rook Irwin Sweeney and leading procurement lawyers Jason Coppel QC and Patrick Halliday. You can read our formal pre action protocol letter to Mr Gove and Mr Cummings here and the proceedings here.

To ensure value for money, to protect public funds, to guard against cronyism and bungs, one must put public contracts out to tender. And there was no exception here to that rule.

It is only with your support that we can continue to hold Government to account. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so here.

Timeline:
30th July 2020: Witness statement of Jolyon Maugham QC: available here
30th July 2020: Witness statement of Rook Irwin Sweeney LLP: available here
13th August 2020: Amended court bundle: available here
19th August 2020: Defendant's Summary Grounds of Resistance: available here
24th November 2020: Order from Court granting Permission for application Judicial Review: available here
21st December 2020: Detailed Grounds of Resistance: available here
21st December 2020: Witness statement of Dominic Cummings: available here
21st December 2020: Witness statement of Lee Cain: available here (Government was unable to produce a signed version of Lee Cain's witness statement and so it was not relied upon in the hearing)
21st December 2020: Witness statement of Helen Stratton: available here
21st December 2020: Witness statement of Nicola Westmore: available here
21st December 2020: Witness statement of Alex Aiken: available here
21st December 2020: Witness statment of Simon Soothill: available here
21st December 2020: Witness statement of Catherine Hunt: available here
25th January 2021: Claimant's skeleton argument: available here
1st February 2021: Defendant's first skeleton: available here
9th February 2021: Witness statement of Mrs Jan Gooding: available here
10th February 2021: Email and instant messaging evidence: available here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here
10th February 2021: Extract from NAO report: available here
15th February 2021: Summary of hearing: available here

Previous Updates

Government struck down by the Court

We are pleased to say that the Court has granted a Cost Capping Order in our judicial review of Government’s decision to hand a contract to Cummings’ pals at Hanbury without any competition. We will…

Read more →

Yesterday in court

“This agency is the one who are Dom Cummings / Lee Cain’s mates, and hence getting all our work with no contract BUT are also spending much money on doing all our ridiculous groups”.
These are…

Read more →

Spending public money for political advantage

Correspondence from Government shows it plans to claim a staggering £500k-600k in costs for a one day hearing of a judicial review challenge to a contract awarded by Dominic Cummings to his friends at Public…

Read more →

The Boardman report

An independent Government review into the awarding of lucrative contracts to allies of Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove has found that in future there must be “a clear process for managing risk regarding conflicts of…

Read more →

The good news keeps coming on our procurement judicial review

Following permission being granted in our PPE cases earlier this week, we’ve now heard that we’ve also been granted permission to bring our challenge against the lucrative public affairs contract given to long-time associates of…

Read more →