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NHS England has confirmed that it will investigate whether Palantir violated the terms of its contract to run the Federated Data Platform, after the tech giant covertly launched an influencer campaign which targeted Good Law Project.
We can reveal that Palantir was required to but failed to seek prior approval from NHS England (NHSE) for its campaign to promote its contract to run the Federated Data Platform and brief against Good Law Project. Now NHSE has confirmed to Bloomberg UK that it will be investigating whether Palantir violated the contract terms just weeks after signing it.
A leaked briefing and emails from the campaign shows that Palantir used Tory-linked PR agency, Topham Guerin and marketing agency, Disrupt, to approach social media influencers to ask them what they would like to be paid to take part. This was done at arms-length, with the briefing asking influencers not to mention Palantir in their content.
The Federated Data Platform contract was finally published on the last working day before Christmas. Page after page of this three-part contract has been redacted – including a section on the protection of personal data.
But one of the sections we can actually see – which covers ‘Publicity and Branding’ – states that Palantir is not permitted to use the Authority’s name or brand in any marketing or publicise the contract without the prior written consent of NHS England.
An NHS spokesperson told Bloomberg that the NHS takes any potential breach of contract by a supplier seriously and is investigating what happened.
“Palantir is not – and frankly never has been – a company that can be trusted with this nationally important contract with our NHS” says Good Law Project’s Executive Director, Jo Maugham.
“By its own behaviour it is telling us exactly that.”
“Within weeks, it commissioned a covert smear campaign against a prominent critic and appears to have broken the terms of that contract. If this Government won’t act to protect the national interest, the next one must.”
Responding to Bloomberg, Palantir has claimed that its campaign was an “exploratory project” so it did not need to consult NHSE. Palantir’s Executive Vice President for UK and Europe, Louis Mosely said, “We decided not to pursue the project — as such, the campaign was not discussed with NHS England”.
But it is clear that the campaign did seek to use the NHS name and brand in marketing and publicized its agreement with the NHS.
The campaign materials were dated 28 November 2023, gave as a deadline 22 December and stated “We are on a tight timeline for this one and would require a response as soon as possible with content going live before the new year”, so it is clear that there was no intention to seek the NHS England’s consent.
Palantir’s conduct in commissioning a covert, paid-for smear campaign against a prominent critic; its decision to breach its contract with the NHS within weeks of signing it; and subsequent dissembling about its intention to breach, will serve to substantiate the concerns of those who believe Palantir was an entity that ought never to have been given the contract in the first place.
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