Dozens of unpublished Covid-19 contracts remain, despite PM’s claim

There are still dozens of unpublished Covid-19 contracts, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson assurance to MPs that they were “on the record for everyone to see”.

The Good Law Project said Mr Johnson’s claim last month was “not true” because government lawyers had said 100 contracts still remain unpublished.

Lawyers also confirmed that 482 out of 513 contract award notices – 94% of them – had been published outside the 30 days required by law.

The Good Law Project, which aims to “challenge abuses of power, exploitation, inequality, and injustice”, was successful in suing the government for its failure to reveal details about Covid-19 deals last month.

Gemma Abbott, the Good Law’s Project legal director, said: “It is only when details of contracts are published that they can be properly scrutinised, otherwise there is no way of knowing where taxpayers’ money is going and why.”

It is required by law for the government to publish a “contract award notice” within 30 days of them awarding a contract for public goods or services that are worth more than £120,000.

The government have maintained that remaining unpublished Covid-19 contracts would be published as soon as possible.

The Department for Health and Social Care have struck deals worth hundreds of millions of pounds throughout the pandemic.

In a February High Court ruling, Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled that Health Secretary Matt Hancock acted unlawfully when his department did not publish award notices for contracts it had agreed within 30 days of them being signed.

He said said the public were entitled to see who the money was going to, what it was being spent on and how the relevant contracts were awarded.

The contracts have attracted scrutiny because many were awarded directly, without being opened to competition, because of the urgency of the pandemic.

When challenged about the ruling in the House of Commons on 22 February, Mr Johnson said: “All the details are on the record. The contracts are there on the record for everybody to see.”

Contact Gi National
Email us: