The High Court has found the government acted unlawfully when it gave a contract worth £560,000 to a company run by friends of former chief adviser to the Prime Minister – Dominic Cummings.
Ministers have refuted the claim that any favouritism was shown towards the market research agency Public First, but the judge decided a failure to consider other firms could be seen as suggesting a “real danger of bias.”
Public First managed the ‘overall public understanding of coronavirus in the UK.’
At the start of the pandemic in March last year, Campaigners launched the action against the Cabinet Office over the decision to use the company, and questioned the involvement of Mr. Cummings.
Lawyers argued that Dominic Cummings wanted ‘focus group and communications support services’ contract to be given to a firm whose bosses, James Frayne and Rachel Wolf, were both former colleagues of Mr. Cummings and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.
In 2011, Mr. Frayne became director of communications at the Department of Education, where he worked alongside Mr. Cummings, who was a special adviser to Mr. Gove, the then education secretary. Ms. Wolf formerly worked as an adviser to Mr. Gove, and for Mr. Cummings.