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Case update 22 December 2022

Michael Gove let off the hook after awarding £840,000 pandemic contract to associates

Mark Thomas / Alamy Stock Photo

In June 2021, the High Court ruled that Michael Gove acted unlawfully and demonstrated apparent bias in giving the PR company, Public First, a £840,000 contract without competition during the pandemic – a firm with links to both him and Dominic Cummings. 

To our profound surprise – and that of our lawyers – this ruling was overturned in the Court of Appeal.

We asked the Supreme Court for permission to appeal  but, disappointingly, this request was refused. For the Supreme Court to hear a case, they have to be persuaded it raises “an arguable point of law of general public importance”. The Supreme Court’s order did not say the point was not arguable, but said it was not of general public importance and referred to the “emergency context created by the pandemic”.

From this, and other decisions, it is apparent that (we think disappointingly) the judiciary has little appetite to examine the use of tens or hundreds of billions of pounds in public money in the pandemic.

We brought this case as we believe there is a clear and significant public interest in how Ministers and officials are awarding lucrative contracts to their friends and associates, without proper safeguards against bias.

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, we will continue to expose Government wrongdoing and push for greater transparency and accountability from those who hold the levers of power. 

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