Matt Hancock is facing calls to resign after he was found to have acted unlawfully by handing out Covid-19 contracts without publishing details in a timely manner.
Yesterday Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled that the health secretary should have obeyed government transparency principles mandating the publication of details of contracts within 30 days.
The case in the High Court found: “There is now no dispute that, in a substantial number of cases, the Secretary of State breached his legal obligation to publish Contract Award Notices within 30 days of the award of contracts.”
It stated: “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.”
In a statement released after the judgement, the Good Law Project – fronted by barrister Jolyon Maugham QC – said: “When government eschews transparency, it evades accountability. Government’s behaviour came under criticism in the judgment.
“If it had admitted to being in breach of the law when we first raised our concerns, it would have never been necessary to take this judicial review to its conclusion. Instead, they chose a path of obfuscation, racking up over £200,000 of legal costs as a result.”
Calls for Hancock to resign were trending on Twitter this afternoon. Here’s what people had to say:
If Matt Hancock does not #Resign for his unlawful mishandling of Covid contracts, it means the law does not apply to the Tories because there are no consequences for them breaking it. In which case we don't live in a democracy.— The Trials of Arturo (@ArturosTrials) February 20, 2021
Health secretary Matt Hancock acted unlawfully in the way he handed out Billions of £££ worth of Coronavirus contracts.— Marie-Ann 💙 #FBPE (@MarieAnnUK) February 20, 2021
30 seconds on BBC News at Ten last night. Absolutely no impact on those who don't live and breathe the news. #Resign #BBCBias https://t.co/XeDocl3biz
Matt Hancock, and the rest of the Tory cabinet, must resign immediately.— Noah 📚 (@House0fCommons) February 20, 2021
No one should be above the law.
Isn't the 'Rule of Law' one of Britain's sacred values? #Resign #bbcnews #torycorruptionhttps://t.co/vFSccKLP85