UK: They think they are above the law

24 July 2020 — The Good Law Project

On 11 July, we issued judicial review proceedings against Michael Gove for awarding an £840,000 contract to long-time associates of his and Mr Cummings’. You can read the documents relating to that claim here.

In those proceedings we said that Mr Gove had broken the law in bypassing the normal procurement rules, rules that exist to ensure fair competition and to guard against croney-ism. We also said that Mr Cummings and/or Mr Gove had acted with apparent bias, just as had his cabinet colleague Mr Jenrick.

Last night we received a response, which you can read here. It is a remarkable letter in its tone – unrepentant and bad-tempered. But its content is even more striking.

It attacks Good Law Project’s ‘standing’ – its interest in the proper administration of public funds. It asks why no other communications firms challenged the award of a contract they were never told the scope of or given an opportunity to bid for. And it ignores the climate that this Government itself has created – one where businesses understand very well that if they raise their voices in opposition they will pay a heavy commercial price.

But it makes no attempt, none at all, to defend the lawfulness of Mr Gove and/or Mr Cummings’ actions. We, the letter seems to suggest, do not need to explain ourselves; we are above the law.

The experienced public law solicitors we instruct have never seen its like before from central Government.

We will file a fully particularised claim form, with supporting evidence, on or before 30 July. And we have asked the Administrative Court to address our claim urgently. We will, of course, keep you fully informed.

Thank you,
Jolyon Maugham

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