Good Law Project has received a letter from a firm of lawyers called Bristows LLP, who act for Abingdon Health.
The letter makes a very serious allegation: it says we have made “public statements that [we] must be aware are simply untrue” and have been “wilfully misleading”.
In other words, they call us liars. You can read the letter here.
But what are the lies they are accusing us of?
The first supposed lie
Bristows say our statement that “Abingdon was awarded £85m of contracts” was a lie. They say “the value of the contracts at issue does not, and has never amounted to £85m”.
Bristows’ point seems to be that the amount Abingdon received from the Government (“the actual amount it has received to date from the Government”) was less than £85m. And if we had said they had received £85m that would have been a lie. But we have not said that.
The second supposed lie
Bristows also say our statement that “Abingdon Health went ‘through the VIP route’” was a lie. This complaint seems to have two parts.
First, although Bristows admit there are emails (which you can read here) showing civil servants anticipated that the contract would be concluded using the VIP route, this does not prove that the contract was so concluded. And, second, nothing shows that Abingdon “actually did make use of any VIP route”.
We have not said that Abingdon Health chose to use a VIP route – indeed, our experience is that companies often did not know they were in the VIP route, which was a Government process to fast-track the favoured. What we have said is that “they went through the VIP route”. This is what the emails show; there is other evidence to that effect (which we are so far unable to publish) and Government does not appear to deny it. The fact that Abingdon did not seek to “make use of” the VIP route may well be true, but is completely beside the point.
It is entirely wrong of Bristows to say we have lied – our statements are accurate summaries of the evidence.
Bristows is a large law firm of 190 lawyers whose website boasts: “We have the courage of our own convictions and will always do the right thing”. That should not extend – falsely – to accusing others of lying.
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