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For over a year, we have worked to uncover the identities of the politically-connected companies who received preferential access to a priority route to the contracts awarded as part of the Government’s multi-billion pound Test and Trace programme.
When Good Law Project first uncovered the Government’s priority route for politically connected testing firms, Ministers strongly denied our claims:
“These claims are completely false…” a Government spokesperson said… “there was no separate ‘fast track’ process.”
However in September, following a long-standing Freedom of Information battle, we finally forced the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) – which oversaw the testing procurement process – to come clean and publish the names of the firms who benefited.
But, one crucial piece of information remains missing – the names of the ministers, MPs or officials who referred the firms onto the “VIP” fast-track lane.
For months, the Government has argued it would be too costly to track down the names of the referrers. An excuse we argued was baseless – and this week it seems we have been backed up by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The ICO has ordered the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to publish the names within 35 days or issue a fresh response, or risk being found in contempt of court.
UKHSA may try to appeal, but the ICO intervention represents a significant step forward.
We will keep you posted.
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