ER Editor: Legal action is being started against Boris Johnson’s idiosyncratic yet powerful advisor, Dominic Cummings, and longtime Conservative government minister in various portfolios, Michael Gove (see featured image) for basically handing out government contracts to ‘associates’ outside of any official public tender process.
A Guardian article dated May 4, 2020 (Vote Leave AI firm wins seven government contracts in 18 months) describes how various contracts to an AI startup company called Faculty, providing data science services to the Vote Leave campaign under the aegis of Dominic Cummings before he became Chief Advisor to PM Boris Johnson, were awarded over an 18-month period, worth one million pounds. Faculty is also involved in the government’s response to the virus scare, ‘processing large volumes of confidential UK patient information in an “unprecedented” data-mining operation alongside Palantir, a US firm founded by the libertarian billionaire Peter Thiel.’
Government contracts were also awarded to a small PR company called Public First. The CrowdJustice page of the Good Law Project Limited describes how Public First was directly awarded work in early March 2020 on the basis of no public tender, contract or formal advertisement, an arrangement which was only formalized 2 months later, in early June. The owners of Public First, Rachel Wolf and James Frayne, have longstanding relationships with both Gove and Cummings, going as far back as 2004 in the case of Frayne. The CrowdJustice page itemizes the handshake deals Public First received during March, April and May of this year in relation to exiting the EU and Covid-19.
An article in Euro Weekly News from July 16, 2020, titled Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings Accused of Impropriety, specifies that both Gove and Cummings have received a pre-action protocol letter and have until July 23 (today) to respond. Legal action may or may not then follow depending on the defence made by them. To be continued …
Legal proceedings launched against UK government over £840k bung to “Cummings’ friends”
The legal team argues that to ensure value for money and guard against cronyism “one must put public contracts out to tender”.
Questions have been raised since the start of the coronavirus crisis over why PPE contracts have gone not to manufacturers or professional suppliers but instead to pest controllers, confectioners, and opaque family offices.
There are also suspicions over why Public First – a company run by Cummings’ allies Rachel Wolf and James Frayne – has been awarded a string of uncontested public contracts.
The Cabinet Office paid Public First approximately £253,000 for services between March and May 2020, but the total contract value is £840,000.
Jo Maugham QC confirmed that proceedings have been issued in the High Court against Michael Gove this weekend.
On the crowdfunding page, the legal team said that to ensure value for money, to protect public funds, to guard against cronyism and bungs, one must put public contracts out to tender.
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