16 February 2021 — Good Law Project
“This agency is the one who are Dom Cummings / Lee Cain’s mates, and hence getting all our work with no contract BUT are also spending much money on doing all our ridiculous groups”.
These are the words of the Head of Insight and Evaluation for the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office, describing a Government contract handed to friends of Dominic Cummings. It’s just one of several explosive emails revealed in yesterday’s hearing of our judicial review of the decision to award the contract without tender.
Documents disclosed to the court revealed that civil servants queried Public First’s costs and asked whether the contract was going to tender (it wasn’t). In one candid exchange a civil servant describes the deal as “tory party research agency tests tory party narrative on public purse”.
In Dominic Cummings’ sworn witness statement, he accepts he was the driving force in handing the contract to Public First, and that he was indeed friends with the owners. He chose to justify his actions by disparaging all other market research agencies, claiming “Very few companies in this field are competent, almost none are very competent, honest and reliable”.
Government has racked up staggering sums of money to defend this judicial review, we believe with the intention of deterring similar challenges in future. Reading the documents disclosed in yesterday’s hearing, it’s not hard to see why they would want to avoid similar challenges.
We believe it is right that the public see how their money has been dished out to those in Dominic Cummings’ inner circle, and we have published all documents we are able to – sadly we cannot give you the whole bundle, much though we would like to – relating to the case here, along with a summary of the hearing. We now await judgement from the court. In the meantime, I wanted to thank you for your support. Our work is only possible thanks to thousands of people like you.
Jolyon Maugham QC
Director of Good Law Project