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What we learned when Dominic Cummings went unpunished for committing a criminal offence is that justice isn’t blind. Whilst normal people made unbearable sacrifices – watching parents die over a videolink – those at heart of Number 10 continued to do just as they pleased.
What we are learning from the Robert Jenrick affair – a man whom, like Cummings, Johnson is backing to the hilt – is that there is no punishment for corruption either. Speaking yesterday morning, Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi could hardly have been clearer: “Come to a Tory fundraiser and you too can have influence” was his message.
They are shrinking public assets to enlarge their own.
And these are no isolated instances. Already we know of two vast – and inexplicable – procurement contracts for PPE. £108m went to a tiny pest control company with net assets of £18,000. And another £108m went to a modestly sized confectioner in Northern Ireland. We have already begun legal proceedings to try to keep Government on the straight and narrow when it comes to public procurement.
And we must try – at the very least we must try – to hold the line when it comes to corruption in the Cabinet. That’s why Good Law Project has asked Jason Coppel QC to advise in writing on whether Robert Jenrick has committed the crime of misconduct in public office. You can see the Crown Prosecution Service’s discussion of that offence here.
Once we have received that advice – which we will publish if practicable – we will consider our next steps including, if the police will not act, a possible private prosecution.
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