British government in 2021

This (below) is an email that landed in my inbox earlier today from the ‘Good Law Project’ who are seeking judicial review on the ‘dubious’ purchasing practices of PPE by the government which have already been the subject of criticsm by the National Audit Office (NAO):

“Correspondence with Government has revealed they expect to spend a staggering £1 million defending our judicial review of their decisions to award contracts criticised by the NAO. This is a sum unprecedented in our lawyers’ experience of judicial review proceedings. We can’t but wonder whether they are trying to scare us off – using the bottomless public purse to avoid accountability to the public.

Government also says, remarkably, that finding out whether they acted lawfully in channelling hundreds of millions or billions to their VIP associates, is not in the public interest.

We had until recently been working on the understanding that we had raised enough money for our challenges to Government’s awards of hundreds of millions of pounds of PPE contracts to Pestfix, Ayanda, and Clandeboye.

We were shocked to learn that – having failed to provide the evidence we’ve been asking for since July – Government is threatening a vast disclosure exercise going well beyond what would normally be undertaken in a judicial review. And not just that they have hired an expensive international commercial law firm. They expect to have a team of 30-40 working for up to 3 months on an exercise that has not been requested by us, or by the Court.

In the experience of our legal team, costs incurred by Government in judicial review proceedings rarely exceed £100,000. Here Government says it has already spent over £325,000, and estimates their total costs will amount to £1 million – a staggering sum for a judicial review.

Government knows full well that we cannot take existential risk on bringing a single case. So we wrote to Government asking it to agree and order ‘capping’ both our costs and the taxpayers’ costs in these public interest proceedings.

We were shocked this week to receive their response contending that the litigation is not in the public interest, and refusing our proposed reciprocal cap: “In particular our client does not agree that the proceedings are ‘public interest proceedings’”. These are cases involving on Government’s own admission hundreds of millions of pounds being spent on unusable facemasks on companies that went through the VIP lane.

Not in the public interest? What are they on!

The point is all the more remarkable given that a barrister employed by the Government Legal Department in her witness statement of 30 November stated that: “We acknowledge that there is considerable public interest in Covid related procurement, particularly of PPE.”

We have now applied to the court for a Cost Cap. In line with our transparency principles I am publishing my Witness Statement. But if we don’t get one, unless a white knight or white knights emerge, the simple fact is we will have to abandon the litigation. We are not in a position to bear a £1 million risk.

Thank you, 

Jolyon Maugham QC
Director of Good Law Project”

It looks to me very much as if the government are using their money creation powers to scare off the challengers.

It looks to me too, as though the government know that they have been rumbled, that corruption is at their heart and centre.

And that there are no depths to which their morality will not sink in order to keep that corruption away from public view.

That is British government in 2021.


  1. Jim Osborne -

    This is an egregious example of the abuse of the money creation powers of government by a corrupt mafia running the country. The logical response is for the Good Law project switch from a judicial strategy to a public media campaign to expose the goings on. I have emailed Jolyon with this suggestion – it would be better use of donors’ money (including mine) rather than use up our limited ammunition trying to stop a Tory panzergruppen Tiger tank.

    1. Peter May -

      As long as we can rely on the BBC to properly show up the corruption. I also have to wonder if it would be cheaper to use the Scottish courts? Because as I understand it the PPE was bought for the entire UK.

  2. Jim Osborne -

    I’d be inclined to launch a full page advertisement/message to be published in the newspapers – even the Daily Mail has its price I guess. Even that would be cheaper than the judicial process looks like being….well maybe….you never know until you try 🙂

    1. Peter May -

      We could hope – but, I’d fear that the DM might well decline it…

  3. Brenda Steele -

    Try a crowdfunder

    1. Peter May -

      GLP already is effectively that – but a million £ is some crowdfunder..

  4. GerryC -

    Take the case to Scottish Court. Scot Gov will help any way it can to expose WM corruption.
    Defoe worth a try.

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