David Conn (Covid contracts: why are courts needed for public to get answers?; Revealed: Cummings’ role in handing Covid contract to firm run by ‘friends’, 15 February) casts some much-needed light on the government’s at best casual, and at worst potentially corrupt, contract procurement processes during the pandemic.
From its unpublicised suspension of standard procurement rules, to its allocation of contracts to suppliers with minimum expertise, to the fast-tracking of bids made by those with the appropriate “contacts”, and the refusal to respond to a freedom of information request for clarity on how such public money was disbursed, the government’s whole procurement process smells rank.
In contrast, over my 40-year career in local government, the importance of total transparency in relation to all contract procedures could never be overemphasised, and failure to adhere to such requirements would bring swift retribution.
In the judicial review case brought by the Good Law Project, I trust that Mrs Justice O’Farrell will make an appropriate determination. In the longer term, the post-Covid public inquiry must examine forensically the Covid-related procurement procedures and to make recommendations as to their strengthening. Anything less will not restore public confidence that governments will be held to account in the next public health crisis.
Linlithgow, West Lothian
• I am a modest supporter of the Good Law Project, a crowdfunded organisation led by Jolyon Maughham QC. The GLP is shining a bright light on the vast number of “emergency” government contracts awarded during the pandemic, seemingly without due process.
The judicial reviews actioned by the GLP have highlighted a number of matters of public concern. This seems right and proper, given it’s taxpayers’ money being doled out. So how come the GLP could face a bill approaching £600,000 relating to the government’s legal costs, should it lose? Is it intended to act as a warning against bringing future cases?
Perhaps it presents an opportunity for the GLP to investigate the contract terms, fee structures and business/client relationships among the government’s legal services. Better increase my small crowdfunding subscription.
John H Butcher