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Judge finds Covid contract for firm run by Cummings’ friends unlawful

A judge has ruled that Michael Gove acted unlawfully when the government awarded a contract without a tender to a polling company owned by long-term associates of his and Dominic Cummings, then Boris Johnson’s chief adviser.

Campaigners had taken legal action against Gove over the decision to pay more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money to the market research firm Public First, after the start of the coronavirus crisis in March 2020, and questioned the involvement of Cummings.

Mrs Justice O’Farrell, who gave the ruling on the Cabinet Office contract with Public First, said: “The decision of 5 June 2020 to award the contract to Public First gave rise to apparent bias and was unlawful.”

She ruled that the Cabinet Office’s failure to identify or consider any other research agency to carry out the work gave the appearance of “a real danger” that the contract award was biased.

Full story in The Guardian, 9 June 2021

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