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Court rules that the UK government "illegally" awarded a contract to PM Johnson's ex-friends. aide's

Boris Johnson has been accused of favoritism and a lack of openness in awarding lucrative supply contracts during the coronavirus outbreak.

The-UK-government-illegally-awarded-a-contract-to-PM-Johnson-s-ex-friends-adviser-s-according-to-a-court-ruling | World | United Kingdom | UK News | Latest World News
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has been accused of cronyism in recent months.

A High Court judge found Wednesday that the UK government improperly handed a communications contract to associates of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior advisor.

Johnson has been accused of favoritism and a lack of openness in awarding lucrative supplier contracts during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Good Law Project, a campaign organization that fights court matters that it believes are in the public interest, filed the lawsuit.

The contract called for a focus groups to supply the government with information on public mood and to assess the impact of public health slogans.

The legal defendant was senior minister Michael Gove, who granted the contract in June 2020 on the advice of Johnson's controversial then-adviser Dominic Cummings, who testified.

The High Court held that Gove's decision to grant the $564,394 ($800,000) contract straight to Public First, a company whose directors had previously worked with him and Cummings, "gave rise to apparent prejudice and was unconstitutional."

Between July 2019 through November 2020, Cummings, the architect of Brexit, served as Johnson's senior advisor. Since then, he has turned on Johnson, openly accusing him of ineptitude.

In a witness testimony, he referred to the directors of Public First as "friends."

Finola O'Farrell, the judge, determined that a "fair-minded" observer would have reason to assume prejudice, but she found no proof of real prejudice.

The court ruled that there was no clear record of objective criteria used to choose the agency, and Gove did not contact other agencies or search a supplier database.

According to her judgment, this "would cause a fair-minded and knowledgeable observer to believe that there was a genuine potential, or a genuine risk, that the decision-maker was prejudiced."

Gove told the court that there was no time for competitive procurement and that personal ties did not matter.

The court concluded that because of the urgency of the situation, the government may provide a direct contract.

According to a representative for the Cabinet Office, the government appreciated the discovery of no genuine prejudice and has subsequently examined its procurement practices.

A state auditors' investigation this year discovered that the UK government had failed to account properly for the 18 billion it had spent on goods and services during the epidemic.

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