According to the legal challenge submitted by the campaigners, Boris Johnson and his health secretary, Matt Hancock, acted “illegally” while hiring three key people, including the head of the NHS test and Trace, Dido Harding. In the high court.
The Observer Details of documents from prosecutors and public prosecutors’ initial responses – to the call for a judicial review of the appointment of Barry Harding, a Tory Peer, and Kate Bingham as head of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce and Mike Coop’s role in the NHS Test and Trace .
The lawsuit was filed jointly by the non-profit Su-Law Project, led by Jalion Mogam QC, and the UK’s leading race equality think tank, RanniMed Trust. If it succeeds, it will represent a more serious blow to the credibility of running the government, claiming that it is running the epidemic and “disguising” ministers.
Claimants say the positions were usually filled without advertisement and without open competition for the important role of the public sector. Instead they identified the proposal and then the recruits were installed in some parts due to their Tory connection. Harding and Bingham were both married to Conservative MPs and Coop was a former chief executive of Sansbury and an associate of Harding in the supermarket.
The claimants questioned the experience and suitability of the three to play the role and further said that the posts were not advertised and the government was indirectly guilty of discriminating against each other due to unpaid wages. They further said that the government has violated the equality obligation in public sector recruitment.
In the case of Harding’s appointment in May by Hancock as head of the Test and Trace program, claimants say his experience was “not clear except for a selection process in which he was uniquely qualified for the role.” Hancock and Harding already knew each other, partly through horse racing connections. Harding was appointed head of the department at the National Institutes of Health in September, again without any public competition or advertising role.
Bingham, who has worked in venture capital and therapeutics and was at school with the prime minister’s sister Rachel, has “no experience in public health administration and no expertise in immunology,” the claimants say. Her husband, Jesse Norman, was a Tory minister and a contemporary of the Prime Minister in Eaton.
Claimants of Coop’s appointment say: “Mr. Coop’s most notable professional experience is as a former CEO of Sansbury. He has no experience as a public administrator or in the health sector. He is a former colleague and friend of Barnes Harding who worked with him at Censbury.”
The plaintiffs are calling on the court to declare that the government has acted “legally” in the way it has made these appointments. They do not want to remove these three positions from their positions, which they have accepted will be disruptive in times of crisis, but to ensure that future governments are obliged to act fairly and legally.
A further 341 people in the UK died on Covid-19 on Saturday and 19,875 new cases were recorded.
The news of the lawyer’s legal challenge came as Johnson prepared to outline Parliament in Parliament on Monday detailing the sanctions that would apply after the end of the lockdown in England on 2 December. He will discuss in his cabinet on Sunday to finalize the details of the additional restrictions, which must be applied to the most affected areas, and how the rules can be relaxed for a few days at Christmas. Sources said the three-tier system will remain in place, though additional restrictions have been imposed if necessary.
Johnson may have to rely on Labor’s support when it comes to voting on new restrictions. It is understood that 70 Tory MPs have signed a letter saying they cannot support a return to the tiered system unless they show ministers that they can “save more lives than they spend”.
The group, led by former chief whip Mark Harper and former Brexit minister Steve Baker, is demanding a full cost-benefit analysis of the proposed sanctions after the end of the current national lockdown.
A pre-action letter detailing the Good Law Project case has been sent to Johnson and Hancock. The government law department has responded by protecting all appointments, urgently needing immediate, temporary and temporary appointments for the epidemic.
The law department said they went beyond the need for full and open competition because it was not the role of the civil service, and praised the administrative skills and experience of the electorate. It also rejected the claim of indirect discrimination as baseless, saying the claimants had failed to say precisely who had been discriminated against. Government lawyers say the case is “unnecessary and will soon be academic.”
Dr. Halima Begum, Director, Runimed Trust, said in her submission: “Corners should not be cut to the point where the government discriminates against non-whites and / or people with disabilities. All qualified individuals should have equal opportunity to compete for this important job, regardless of their background. They should be able to accept these jobs while helping them and their families.
“Delivering through open competition and failing to get paid from a full-time position creates the idea that important work is being done in an inner circle of wives and friends within Westminster. This is what people increasingly call ‘kissocracy’.
Dave Penman, head of the Civil Servants Union FDA, said: “Ensuring that employees are recruited on the basis of merit is not a legal obligation for the government, but to ensure the effectiveness of public services and protect the civil service from cronyism and corruption. This ensures that from local employees to the minister’s private offices, government employees are hired for their work, who they don’t know what they believe. “
Maogam said: “If our politicians care a little bit about public confidence, we need to get back to how things were used before. Public service needs to be precise – not clothing for the advancement of personal interests. “
The Good Law Project also follows allegations that Covid-19-related contracts were awarded to people closely connected to the Tories. Last week, Cabinet Office Secretary Julia Lopez said there would be an internal review of the awarding of private contracts during the epidemic, so ministers could be sure there was “no basis” for bias on the part of Tory supporters or donors. The National Audit Office is also collecting its own reviews.
A spokesman for number ten said: “We have no comment on the ongoing legal process.”