UK Crony Capitalism: Public Enemy Number One

Monday, 22 August 2022 — Goodlaw Project

Tory leadership candidate Rishi Sunak has launched a furious, misguided, attack on Good Law Project and its founder Jolyon Maugham QC for “wasting time and money” in the Courts. And he has threatened judges he calls “recidivist” – a word meaning the tendency of convicted criminals to continue to offend – with legislation to force them to act in accordance with his wishes.

The attack is the latest, and most targeted, attempt by the Government to bully judges who constrain its law-breaking. Judicial review – success rates for which have already fallen under this pressure to the lowest on record – is the only means by which the Government can be forced to comply with the law made by Parliament.

All of the examples given by Sunak’s press release, which you can read below, focus on Jo, mentioning him no fewer than ten times, and Good Law Project. It gives four examples of “Good Law Project wasting time and money.” In fact, Good Law Project achieved a high degree of success in two of those four cases. And the High Court has given permission to hear the third “in view of the importance of the issues”.

The press release gives as its first example a case started in Dublin. That case was then resumed in Edinburgh where Good Law Project succeeded in Scotland’s Highest Court, then fended off the Government’s attempt to have the case heard before the Supreme Court, and succeeded again in Europe’s Highest Court, the Court of Justice.

Sunak’s press release is simply wrong – either ignorant or dishonest – to assert the case sought “to overturn the UK’s notification of its decision to leave the EU.” It sought, successfully, to place into Parliament’s hands the option of changing its mind. The Westminster Government does not, of course, have power to change the rules of court in Dublin.

The second case mentioned by the press release concerns the Government’s sleazy or corrupt VIP Lane which diverted billions of pounds of public money to associates and donors to the Conservative Party in return for unusable PPE. The High Court held that the VIP Lane was flawed and illegal.

Of the two remaining cases, one concerns the growing practice of Ministers and their advisers to use ephemeral and unmonitored private messaging channels for Government procurement. Good Law Project lost in the High Court but our appeal will be heard by the Court of Appeal later this year. The High Court itself gave us permission to appeal “in view of the importance of the issues”.

The final example cited involved the practice of wrenching looked after children from their support networks to house them in cheaper parts of the country exposing them to increased risk of sexual exploitation. Good Law Project sued, unsuccessfully, Lib dem and Conservative Local Authorities, a fact flatly inconsistent with the case being “politically motivated” as Sunak charges.

Good Law Project’s litigation is uncovering billions of your money wasted by this Government’s cronyism and sleaze.

It wants you kept in the dark. But we think it should obey the same rules as everyone else. Not change them so it doesn’t have to. None of us is above the law.

Thank you,

Good Law Project team

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