Legal challenge launched over ‘unlawful’ Government Covid appointments

Support us and go ad-free

Campaigners have submitted a legal challenge alleging that prime minister Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock acted “unlawfully” when appointing key figures to top posts during the coronavirus crisis, it has been reported.

The Observer said that the case had been lodged jointly by the Good Law Project and race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust.

It said that the judicial review, submitted to the High Court, alleged that three appointments were made without advertising the positions and without the open competition normally required for senior public sector roles.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

The case relates to the recruitment of test and trace boss and Tory peer Baroness Dido Harding; Kate Bingham, head of the UK’s vaccine taskforce; and Mike Coupe, director of NHS Test and Trace, the Observer added.

Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project, said on social media: “This is our belief, that cronyism – which undermines the public interest, discriminates against those who don’t rub shoulders with cabinet ministers, and shuts out those who lack the family fortune to work unpaid – is unlawful.

“And we at @GoodLawProject mean to prove it in court.”

Mr Maughan said that the organisation will publish the full court documents on Sunday.

A No 10 spokesman said: “We do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”

The Good Law Project and Runnymede Trust’s crowding funding page said that Lady Harding was just “handed the job” as head of the National Institute for Health Protection without any other candidates being considered.

It said that she was not the only one to land a top job this way and that “very often” people who had been recruited had “personal and political connections to the government”.

Coronavirus – Fri Nov 13, 2020
Baroness Dido Harding, executive chair of NHS Test and Trace (Kirsty O’Connor/PA Images)

It said: “In August, the Conservative peer Dido Harding was appointed as head of the National Institute for Health Protection.

“The wife of a Conservative MP and friend of former prime minister David Cameron, Dido Harding didn’t pip other candidates to the post at the interview.

“There weren’t any other candidates. She was just handed the job.

“She’s not the only one to land a top job this way.

“Each week it seems another individual secures a role of vital public importance without any advertisement or fair process – and very often that individual has personal and political connections to Government.”

While the page said that appointing “your mates” was not new or the “preserve of the Conservative Party” it was time to put a stop to it.

It added: “This Government’s approach discriminates against those born without a silver spoon in their mouth.

“It’s unfair to those who don’t rub shoulders with high-ranking Ministers. And it’s unfair to groups who the data shows are shut out of public life.

“Appointing your mates to top jobs isn’t new or the preserve of the Conservative Party: we all remember ‘Tony’s Cronies’ too.

“But it’s high time we put a stop to it.

“Runnymede Trust and Good Law Project are challenging the appointment of Dido Harding, as well as a string of other appointments which were made with seemingly no advertisement or fair recruitment process.”

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us