Campaigners have submitted a legal challenge alleging that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock acted “unlawfully” when appointing key figures to top posts during the coronavirus crisis, it has been reported. With this already in the pipeline Matt Hancock has been linked to another ‘chumocracy’ row.
The Observer said that the case had been lodged jointly by the Good Law Project and race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust.
It said that the judicial review, submitted to the High Court, alleged that three appointments were made without advertising the positions and without the open competition normally required for senior public sector roles.
The case relates to the recruitment of test and trace boss and Tory peer Baroness Dido Harding; Kate Bingham, head of the UK’s vaccine taskforce; and Mike Coupe, director of NHS Test and Trace, the Observer added.
Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project, said on social media: “This is our belief, that cronyism – which undermines the public interest, discriminates against those who don’t rub shoulders with Cabinet Ministers, and shuts out those who lack the family fortune to work unpaid – is unlawful.
“And we at @GoodLawProject mean to prove it in court.”
Mr Maughan said that the organisation will publish the full court documents on Sunday.
A No 10 spokesman said: “We do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”
Now new allegations of ‘chumocracy’ cronyism emerged involving Matt Hancock.
Hancock handed a top role in the Department of Health to a PR consultant and lobbyist, who happens to be one of his best friends from university. They both studied politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at Oxford between 1995 and 1998.
He made Gina Coladangelo a part-time non-executive director of the department on a reported £15,000 salary while she remains the marketing and communications director of High Street retailer Oliver Bonas.
Ms Coladangelo, 42, has also been given a parliamentary pass sponsored by Tory peer Lord Bethel, the Sunday Times reported, despite not working for his team.
The publication also reported she was made an unpaid adviser in the Department of Health on a six-month contract in March, before she took up her paid role.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘Another week another cronyism scandal.
‘Whether it’s giving contracts worth millions of pounds to their chums or giving lobbyist mates jobs and access to secret information, this government is making a mockery of our national effort against coronavirus.’