The statement issued by Downing Street when Michael Gove lost the Public First case (“We welcome the judgment”) might almost have made you think he had won. He didn’t of course – and the finding he had broken the law by awarding a contract to friends of Dominic Cummings was a powerful vindication of Good Law Project’s analysis of the Government’s attitude to public money as “institutionalised cronyism”.
In any event, Mr Gove has now revealed the truth of who actually won in the High Court by deciding to appeal the decision. You can read the (highly critical) decision of Lord Justice Coulson giving him permission here.
We think his decision to spend more public money on an appeal is likely to be driven by a desire to postpone a further embarrassing loss in a separate challenge we are bringing. We are challenging another lucrative contract awarded to allies of Michael Gove, this time to a company called Hanbury. It was due to be heard later this month but will now be delayed.
However, the appeal gives us a chance to revivify the arguments we ran below that there was time for a proper competitive tender process and/or no need to give such a long and valuable contract without any tender process.
All of that having been said, we have to recognise Government spent an extraordinary £500,000+ on a one day hearing below – approximately twice what we managed to raise to fight and win the case. With that in mind, we have decided to reopen our crowdfunding page. If you are in a position to donate, you can do so here.