Suffolk Health Minister under fire as Court rules against Govt PPE Contracts
Government broke the law by failing to disclose PPE contracts, court rules
West Suffolk MP and Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, failed to comply with a public procurement law that requires the government to publish contract awards within 30 days. said High Court judge, Martin Chamberlain.
Andrew MacAskill for Reuters News reported - The British government broke the law by failing to publish details of billions of pounds of spending on personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic, a London court ruled on Friday.
"The Secretary of State spent vast quantities of public money on pandemic-related procurements during 2020," "The public were entitled to see who this money was going to, what it was being spent on and how the relevant contracts were awarded." said Chamberlain.
Menwhile Boris Johnson continues to resist calls for a public inquiry into his government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic from some doctors and bereaved families as the country's death toll topped 130,000, Europe's worst figure and the world's fifth worst, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.
Reuters News and the HCSA, reported, The Good Law Project, a campaign group, and three opposition politicians - Labour's Debbie Abrahams, the Green Party's Caroline Lucas and Liberal Democrat Layla Moran - argued there had been a "dismal" failure by the DHSC to comply with the obligation and brought a judicial review seeking information about undisclosed deals with firms that had no medical procurement expertise and, in some cases, delivered defective protective equipment.
The National Audit Office said last year there had been a lack of transparency and a failure to explain why certain suppliers were chosen, or how any conflict of interest was dealt with, in procurement deals between March and the end of July worth about 18 billion pounds
Opposition politicians have accused the government of running a "chumocracy" with contracts, including for the purchase of what turned out to be unusable PPE, and appointments made to those with family or business links to those in power.
The judge reportedly said, the health ministry could have avoided running up a legal bill amounting to £207,000 if it had "candidly" admitted that transparency rules had been broken.
The health ministry said it had needed to move within very short timescales and against unparalleled global demand and Sky News reports that Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended his officials after his department was found to have acted unlawfully in failing to publish billions of pounds worth of COVID-19 contracts.
Sources: Reuters News London Andrew MacAskill Reuters News 19th Feb.Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; editing by William James and Jonathan Oa