Spending public money for political advantage

Correspondence from Government shows it plans to claim a staggering £500k-600k in costs for a one day hearing of a judicial review challenge to a contract awarded by Dominic Cummings to his friends at Public First. The higher figure is more than the total value of the Public First contract of £564k.

By way of contrast, our costs will be around £44k if we lose and £127k if we win. As a further contrast, Government’s costs in a legal challenge to Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose new junior doctors contracts with a number of interim hearings and a two-day final hearing requiring an 83 page judgment were under £200k.

The costs in Public First – £500k-£600k – is what Government says we must pay if we lose. There is no denying that figures like this – huge sums inflated beyond all commonsense – pose an existential risk to Good Law Project. Indeed, I think that is their very purpose.

They will also deter important public interest challenges to Government cronyism.

Last year we issued another judicial review challenge to the award of another lucrative market research contract to other friends of Dominic Cummings, this time the consultancy firm Hanbury. The contract, too, bears all the hallmarks of cronyism.

We have just been granted permission to proceed with that judicial review by the High Court. Giving permission the Court said: “it is arguable that the challenge raises serious issues of public importance that would otherwise not be scrutinised,” and “the Defendant has admitted that some directors of the Interested Party were known to both the Defendant and the former Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister, and had worked previously with and for them and for the Conservative Party. In those circumstances, apparent bias is arguable.

But although the Courts can see the considerable public importance of these cases Government is desperate that they should not come to light.

The Public First judicial review involves extraordinary revelations. Both Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain have given witness statements. We are determined that the truth should see the light of day on Monday.

But bringing cases like this involves profound risk for us. If you are in a position to do so, you can help us by contributing to our crowdfunder here: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/a-river-to-my-people/


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