24 August 2020 — Good Law Project
How is it that Public First, long-time associates of Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings, have been awarded yet another contract, without any advertising or competitive tendering process?
Although Government cancelled A-Levels and GCSEs in mid-March, it was only in June that they contracted Public First to help Ofqual “secure public confidence in the strategy”. We’re not sure quite how well that assignment worked out! But on any view, there was time to run a procurement process before starting work – and so we just do not understand how Ofqual can justify sidestepping procurement law.
We are now aware of three contracts to Public First. A river of public money is flowing into a business owned by close associates of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office Minister and Chief Political Adviser – and all without any open, transparent tender process.
This is why Good Law Project has now taken the first formal step in issuing further judicial review proceedings against Ofqual.
We ask Ofqual to agree that the contract with Public First was unlawful, terminate it, and procure any further communications services by way of a fair and lawful competition. Unless these actions are taken within 14 days, Good Law Project will issue judicial review proceedings in the High Court. You can read the letter here.
The letter is the second one sent by Good Law Project to Ofqual in relation to its mishandling of the cancellation of A levels and GCSEs. On Sunday 16 August, Good Law Project, along with six affected students, demanded Ofqual abandon its “unfair” process for awarding exam results. Ofqual abandoned the use of their algorithm the following day.
Good Law Project has also already commenced proceedings against Michael Gove, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, in respect to the £840,000 contract awarded to Public First, again without any tendering process, for communication services in respect of Brexit and the pandemic.
Proper procurement processes are essential to ensure value for public money and guard against the improper use of public funds to reward personal and political associates. We won’t stand by whilst a river of public money flows, we believe unlawfully, into the coffers of associates of key Conservative Party figures.
If you are in a position to support our legal challenge against Ofqual, you can do so here.
Jolyon Maugham QC