Boris Johnson Misled Parliament Over Coronavirus Contracts, Court Order Shows
A court order has shown that Prime Minister Boris Johnson misled parliament over the publication of coronavirus contracts.
Johnson claimed the contracts were available for everyone to see, but it’s since come to light that only 608 out of 708 relevant contracts were published.
It’s been deemed unlawful that he failed to publish all 708. All of the contracts were subject to legal challenge and cronyism allegations after Johnson claimed they were all ‘there on the record for everybody to see,’ despite 100 of them not being published.
The final order by judge Mr Justice Chamberlain was handed down by the High Court today, March 5.
Chamberlain states in the order, as per The Independent, ‘The Defendant has published 608 out of 708 relevant contracts for supplies and services relating to COVID-19 awarded on or before 7 October 2020.’
‘In some or all of these cases, the Defendant acted unlawfully by failing to publish the contracts within the period set out in the Crown Commercial Service’s Publication of Central Government Tenders and Contracts: Central Government Transparency Guidance Note (November 2017),’ he continued.
As of last month, the UK Government has spent more than $24 billion on contracts in response to coronavirus, according to Tussell. 60% of this value has been awarded for products and supplies, while 39% was dedicated to procuring services.
Campaigners are now arguing today’s order confirms Johnson misled MPs even after it was ruled that the government had broken the law.
The Good Law Project said of today’s news:
Remarkably, the Judge’s Order is based on Government’s own figures – so at the same time as Johnson was falsely reassuring MPs, Government lawyers were preparing a statement contradicting him – revealing 100 contracts and dozens of Contract Award Notices were missing from the public record.
‘Over the course of our judicial review, Government made no less than four attempts to provide an accurate witness statement setting out the number of contracts and Contract Award Notices that had been published late – and they kept getting it wrong,’ the project continued.
Legally, the government has to publish Contract Award Notices (CANs) within 30 days, but it’s now being reported that only 3% of its CANs were published within this timeframe.
The Good Law Project, which brought the legal challenge, finished its statement with, ‘We have a Government, and a Prime Minister, contemptuous of transparency and apparently allergic to accountability. The very least that the public deserves now is the truth. ‘
Number 10 is yet to respond to today’s order.
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