Boris Johnson deceived parliament over the publication of coronavirus contracts, a court order appears to show.
The prime minister had actually declared that the agreements, which are subject to a legal obstacle and cronyism claims, were “there on the record for everybody to see”.
But a last order handed down by the High Court on Friday states the federal government had in fact only published “608 out of 708 pertinent contracts”.
The revelation follows a High Court judge found Matt Hancock had acted unlawfully by handing out contracts without releasing information in a timely way after a case was brought against the federal government by the Good Law Task.
The order, by judge Mr Justice Chamberlain, states: “The defendant has released 608 out of 708 relevant agreements for supplies and services associating with Covid-19 granted on or prior to 7 October2020
” In some or all of these cases, the offender acted unlawfully by stopping working to publish the contracts within the duration set out in the Crown Commercial Service’s Publication of Central Federal Government Tenders and Agreements: Central Government Transparency Assistance Note (November 2017).”
But Mr Johnson had actually told parliament on 22 February: “All I will say is that the contracts are there on the record for everyone to see.”
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Advocates state the latest document from the court verifies that the prime minister misinformed MPs even after it was ruled that the government had actually broken the law.
The Great Law Job, which brought the legal challenge, stated in a declaration: “Remarkably, the Judge’s Order is based upon federal government’s own figures– so at the exact same time as Johnson was wrongly reassuring MPs, government attorneys were preparing a declaration contradicting him– exposing 100 agreements and lots of Agreement Award Notices were missing out on from the public record.”
The advocates added: “Government has not only misinformed parliament and positioned inaccurate information prior to the court, it has actually misinformed the nation.
” Unless agreement information are published they can not be properly scrutinised– there’s no way of knowing where taxpayers’ money is going and why. Billions have been invested with those connected to the Conservative Party and vast sums wasted on PPE that isn’t suitable for purpose.
” We have a government, and a prime minister, contemptuous of openness and apparently adverse responsibility. The really least that the general public deserves now is the reality.”
In 2015, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) examined how firms were awarded contracts– including many without competitors– worth ₤18 bn to secure basics such as PPE devices in the preliminary months of the pandemic.
It criticised an “inadequate” documentation of cases and kept in mind that a cross-government PPE group established a “high top priority lane” to handle leads from authorities in government, ministers’ workplaces, MPs, peers, senior NHS personnel and other health experts.
The NAO also noted: “A number of agreements were awarded retrospectively, or have actually not been published in a prompt manner.
” This has actually lessened public openness, and the lack of adequate paperwork suggests we can not give guarantee that government has actually adequately mitigated the increased dangers emerging from emergency situation procurement or applied proper business practices in all cases.