Tag Archives: contract

Johnson’s contempt of the courts as Covid contracts are STILL unpublished

UK prime minister Boris Johnson missed his calling in life: he belongs in the circus.

Who can doubt that Boris And His Amazing Talking Backside would be a hit with audiences across the country, if not the globe?

And let’s be honest, it would be a far more appropriate place for him to make the kind of utterances he does.

There can be little doubt that most of Johnson’s conversation comes, not from his mouth, but from the other end.

He tends to give vent to short bursts of hot air with very little real content. And such content as there is, stinks.

A prime example of this verbal flatulence is the moment he claimed that all Covid-related contracts were “on the record for everyone to see” after Matt Hancock had been found to have broken the law by failing to publish them.

And were they?

Challenged about the ruling in the House of Commons on 22 February, Mr Johnson said: “All the details are on the record.”

The prime minister added: “The contracts are there on the record for everybody to see.”

But three days later, in a written legal response to the Good Law Project, seen by the BBC, government lawyers admitted 100 contracts for suppliers and services relating to Covid-19 signed before 7 October had yet to be published.

So they weren’t. And nobody is surprised because we all know that Johnson’s words don’t come from his mouth but from somewhere much lower down.

The other Tory claim about this – that the government has been “working tirelessly” to deliver protection for health and social care staff – was disproved the moment it was uttered.

We all remember that health staff had to fight Covid with no personal protective equipment at all when the first wave of the pandemic broke over the UK.

And social care staff actually carried it between homes, infecting – and killing – 30,000 residents.

When the High Court made its judgement against Matt Hancock last month, he was ordered to publish details of his contracts and pay £85,000 towards the costs of the Good Law Project, whose members brought the case.

The government hasn’t published those contracts. Shouldn’t Hancock now suffer a stronger penalty?

Source: Covid contracts still unpublished despite Boris Johnson’s claim – BBC News

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Matt Hancock is gaslighting not only nurses, but ALL of us, over PPE

Smug little liar: when Matt Hancock opens his mouth to make a claim,experience shows it will probably be wrong.

Our nurses are right and Matt Hancock is a liar. He would resign if he had an ounce of integrity but of course he doesn’t, so he won’t.

He has said he would not resign after a High Court judge ruled he was responsible for unlawful delays in revealing how billions of pounds were spent on gowns, masks and other protective equipment at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge: “My officials, with my full support, spent every waking hour buying PPE so that, even though we came close, we never actually ran out of PPE in this country.

“People can make up their own view about whether I should have told my team to stop buying PPE or whether I was right to buy the PPE and get it to the front line.

“And they did that even though the paperwork got delayed by, on average, just over a fortnight.”

Nurses don’t have to make up their own minds. They have the facts. They have experienced the deaths of their colleagues, who were exposed to Covid-19 needlessly because Hancock did not supply them with PPE.

In fact, as I stated earlier, not only did the Johnson government give away the PPE it had, it later wasted millions – if not billions – giving contracts to useless Tory cronies who either couldn’t supply the goods or provided equipment that could not be used.

That will be the buying that Hancock mentioned to Ms Ridge, then?

I also mentioned the fact that nurses caught the virus because they didn’t have proper PPE:

“According to Metro,

Three nurses who wore bin bags on their shifts due to a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.

Just weeks ago, the nurses had shared a photo of themselves with clinical waste bags on their heads and feet as they issued a plea for proper masks, gowns and gloves at Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow.

“I wrote: ‘One of them had said they were all “terrified” that this might happen, knowing that colleagues had caught the disease from patients, and having treated those colleagues. They had seen what the illness does… We know what the government that failed them is going to give them: Platitudes.’

“How right I was.”

Now, responding to Hancock’s comments, community nurse Angela Roberts recalled the incident when she asked:

Why were nurses forced to use bloody bin bags? Out-of-date masks?

She continued:

Why was PPE downgraded for NHS staff?

‘Why was there no PPE for care homes and community nurses except for plastic pinnies?

And Anthony Johnson, lead organiser for Nurses United, said:

He thinks that he can try to gaslight millions of health and social care workers who had to re-use PPE.

If so, he thinks wrong.

But what difference will it make if there are no consequences for his actions?

Source: Hancock is gaslighting us over PPE, say nurses | Metro

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Hancock LIED when he said there was never a national PPE shortage. Here’s the evidence. Now demand his resignation

Yet again: the PPE used in UK hospitals at the start of the Covid crisis is pictured bottom right. The infographic was made when the UK had hardly any personal protective equipment – but now Matt Hancock is trying to save his job by claiming there was never any shortage.

The Death Health Secretary is trying to rewrite history:

Did you hear him?

One minute and 40 seconds in: “But there wasn’t a national shortage [of personal protective equipment – PPE] at any point.”

That is simply untrue.

Here he is in April last year, saying he’d love to wave a magic wand to resolve PPE shortages:

The Tory government of the day was told in 2016/17, after Operation Cygnus, that the UK’s health service would be unable to cope with a pandemic virus infection without plentiful supplies of protective equipment for health workers… and decided that such an investment was too expensive.

This led to a situation in March 2020 when an NHS procurement chief, Alan Hoskins tweeted: “What a day, no gowns NHS Supply Chain. Rang every number escalated to NHS England, just got message back — no stock, can’t help, can send you a PPE pack. Losing the will to live, god help us all.”

The tweet was subsequently deleted, possibly under duress as even then the Tory government was trying to hide the facts. As This Writer put it on April 3 last year: “it seems doctors have been warned not to make any comments about shortages on social media, as well as avoiding talking to journalists, and NHS England has taken over media operations for many hospitals and health trusts in order to ensure that they all stay “on message”.”

On April 17 I brought public attention to the plight of nurses who had been forced to wear bin bags instead of proper protection. According to Metro,

Three nurses who wore bin bags on their shifts due to a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.

Just weeks ago, the nurses had shared a photo of themselves with clinical waste bags on their heads and feet as they issued a plea for proper masks, gowns and gloves at Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow.

I wrote: “One of them had said they were all “terrified” that this might happen, knowing that colleagues had caught the disease from patients, and having treated those colleagues. They had seen what the illness does… We know what the government that failed them is going to give them: Platitudes.”

How right I was.

On April 19 I quoted a Sunday Times piece on the Johnson government’s PPE failures that showed he had sent 278,800 items of protective kit to China in February – immediately before the UK had needed it:

Downing Street admitted on February 24 — just five days before NHS chiefs warned a lack of PPE left the health service facing a “nightmare” — that the UK government had supplied 1,800 pairs of goggles and 43,000 disposable gloves, 194,000 sanitising wipes, 37,500 medical gowns and 2,500 face masks to China.

Don’t worry – it seems we may be getting some of it back. It’s just that the government isn’t sure, having lost £15 billion worth of PPE, some of which it has bought (back?) from other countries including China:

The government is not sure where billions of pounds worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) is located, the head of the National Audit Office has disclosed.

Gareth Davies, the comptroller and auditor general, said outside consultants had been brought into Whitehall to find all equipment, which is stored at different sites around the country, or is in transit from abroad.

Under questioning from the public accounts committee, Davies said: “We have been working closely with the DoH. It has commissioned consultants to advise it on first of all understanding where all the PPE that has been bought actually is. It sounds like a strange question but it is a really big issue because it is not all standing neatly in an NHS store somewhere.

“We have amounts in containers, in storage around the country, there’s some on the docks and there is some en route somewhere from China.”

On April 18 last year, I quoted a Mirror report that

NHS doctors and nurses will be asked to treat patients infected with coronavirus without full-length gowns – or re-use the ones they have, it has emerged tonight.

The Government has been under fire for weeks over the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE), with some frontline staff warning that they have had to work in situations where they feel unsafe.

Public Health England guidelines currently state that full-length waterproof surgical gowns should by worn by medical workers to stop Covid-19 spreading into someone’s mouth or nose.

However, there has now been a U-turn advising staff to wear a flimsy plastic apron when gowns run out or not wear one at all

And Matt Hancock has the cheek to tell us now that there was never a shortage.

Here’s a tweet about PPE availability in one hospital on April 19:

The following day we learned a much-touted delivery of PPE from Turkey would last just three days. It had been previously reported that Boris Johnson had refused to join an EU scheme to provide PPE where it was needed (see the Peter Stefanovic tweet towards the top of this article).

On April 24 we found

The UK’s stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in a pandemic…  has been outsourced to a private company, Movianto, which was sold two weeks ago for $133m (£107m) by its owner, a large US healthcare group.

Two days later the Turkish shipment of PPE arrived – and proved to be just one-twelfth of the expected amount.

Later in the Covid crisis we learned that the Tories were using the emergency procurement system which bypasses the competitive tendering process and allows the government to purchase items and services direct from chosen firms, was being abused.

Tories were giving cash to their cronies in return for equipment that simply wasn’t fit to be used.

The classic example is that of Board of Trade president (and cheese queen) Liz Truss, who spent £150 million of your money on 50 million face masks for the NHS that couldn’t be used.

She had been approached for the contract by one of her long-standing friends and advisors, Andrew Mills. Oh, and apparently it was sourced through a tax haven so this guy can keep all the money.

Mills was subsequently removed from his advisory position. But Truss didn’t go anywhere.

Tory ministers “learned the lessons” from this mistake by handing a further £180 million to their cronies for PPE.

Did we get it? Doubtful.

All the way down the line the Tories have failed us.

They gave away our PPE when we needed it.

They failed to join an international scheme to provide it where it was needed.

They failed to source it themselves.

They gave money to their friends and cronies who had no experience in providing PPE, and received trash in return.

As a result, health service professionals caught Covid-19. Many of them died.

And Matt Hancock, who is on video record from last year, saying he wished he could wave a magic wand and eliminate the PPE shortage, is now telling us he shouldn’t have to resign for breaking the law by hiding contract details – because he made sure there was never a PPE shortage.

He is a LIAR.

He should resign NOW.

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Hancock won’t resign over unlawful Covid contracts – and why should he when Starmer supports him?

With friends like these: Matt Hancock has refused to resign for breaking the law – and Tory-in-Labour-clothing Keir Starmer has supported him. So much for democracy. So much for justice.

Matt Hancock has refused to resign after the High Court said he had breached a legal obligation to publish details of Covid-19-related contracts with private firms. He said he had been doing what was needed in order to save lives.

That, of course, has yet to be seen – and we shouldn’t have to wait too long.

The court’s decision means details of Hancock’s hidden contracts must be publicised at last. We will be able to judge whether he spent billions of pounds of public money on measures that have actually saved lives…

… Or simply funnelled cash into the pockets of Tory cronies and chums who then failed to do anything useful with it at all.

Sadly, Hancock is under no political pressure whatsoever to resign after Keir Starmer, a so-called “Blue Labour” turncoat who pretends to lead Her Majesty’s Opposition but instead acts more like a cheerleader for the Conservative government, spoke in support of him instead:

What a betrayal – well, you can tell how This Writer feels about it from my own response:

All Labour – as a party – has done is urge Hancock to publish details of contracts that remain secret at the time of writing, which is no more than the High Court ordered.

And Labour said he should stop using emergency procurement powers in order to put a stop to cronyism. He should have stopped months ago; procurement of Covid-related equipment and services was an emergency matter in February 2020 but by now it should be subject to the proper tendering process – the emergency should be over.

Some Labour MPs have demonstrated that they have more backbone than the party’s fake of a leader, though:

It is hard to tell what is most disappointing about the way this story is developing.

If the UK’s government was functioning properly, then Hancock should have been out of a job within minutes of the High Court’s decision becoming public.

But government hasn’t functioned properly in this way since the 1980s, if I recall correctly.

The news media failed to grip the story properly; it is only because the social media publicised it that they felt pressured into mentioning it at all.

And the inaction of the Labour leader has been nothing short of contemptible.

Source: Matt Hancock refuses to resign over failure to publish details of Covid contracts – Mirror Online

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Hancock faces ‘resign’ demands over his unlawful Covid-19 contracts

Bad smell: if Matt Hancock thinks he can smell something rotten, it’s probably Hancock himself.

Was Vox Political the first media outlet to publicise the High Court’s ruling that Matt Hancock acted unlawfully?

How welcome it is to see that some other sites have followed suit, although it seems the mainstream media have been dragging their heels. Why is that, do you think?

Perhaps they realised that a revelation of this kind – that a Cabinet minister dished out contracts worth billions of pounds to private companies run by chums of his political party – many of whom then failed to honour them – had illegally hidden the details in order to dodge scrutiny – would be harmful to the reputation of the Conservative government.

But why should that bother anybody in the news media?

All reporters have an obligation to the facts – not to their friends.

It seems some of our favourite channels/papers have forgotten that.

Well – too bad. This cat is out of the bag and people are furious:

How long will Hancock last?

Or are the Tories really convinced that they are untouchable?

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Matt Hancock broke the law by keeping Covid-19 contracts with private firms secret, High Court rules

Unlawful: Matt Hancock broke the law by handing out huge amounts of money in contracts to private firms and withheld the details from the public.

The High Court has ruled that Death Health Secretary Matt Hancock “acted unlawfully” by failing to provide details of contracts with private companies to the public within the required deadline.

This meant the public had been left unable to “scrutinise contract award notices and contract provisions, ask questions about them and raise any issues with oversight bodies such as the NAO or via MPs in Parliament”.

In other words, Hancock broke the law in order to avoid being held to account for the contracts he had signed.

We should remember that we now know many of these contracts, signed under emergency regulations that allow the government to dodge normal competitive tendering procedures, went to firms run by cronies of the Tory government who could not honour them – while experts were overlooked.

So billions of pounds have gone to waste – including the £200,000 cost of the judicial review in the High Court that ruled against Hancock.

The Secretary of State had tried to claim that the proceedings, brought by the Good Law Project alongside MPs Debbie Abrahams, Caroline Lucas and Layla Moran, were not an “economic operator” and therefore did not have the necessary “standing”.

But Mr Justice Chamberlain stated that it was unrealistic to claim that economic operators would have challenged Government’s breach of the law in these circumstances.

In his ruling, the judge stated,

The Secretary of State acted unlawfully by failing to comply with the Transparency Policy.

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.

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.

But the loss of the case – and the forfeiture of £200k associated with it – doesn’t mean that Hancock has cleaned up his act.

A press release from the Good Law Project states: “We shouldn’t be forced to rely on litigation to keep those in power honest, but in this case it’s clear that our challenge pushed Government to comply with its legal obligations.

“Judge Chamberlain stated that the admission of breach by Government was “secured as a result of this litigation and at a late stage of it” and “I have no doubt that this claim has speeded up compliance”.

“It begs the question, if we hadn’t brought this legal challenge, what other contract details would have remained hidden from view?

This judgment, which can be found here, is a victory for all of us concerned with proper governance and proof of the power of litigation to hold Government to account.

“But there is still a long way to go before the Government’s house is in order.

“We have now written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care detailing what needs to be done to improve procurement processes and ensure value for British taxpayers.”

These measures include:

  • Publishing the names of all companies that won contracts through the so-called “VIP lane” that prioritised firms run by friends of Tory ministers over the experts – together with the names of those who introduced them and, where successful, the amounts they were paid.
  • A commitment to recover public money from all firms that failed to meet their contractual obligations – with this condition to be determined by an independent process and not by anybody in the Tory government.
  • A commitment to commission a judge-led public inquiry into the procurement of personal protective equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • And a commitment to follow the lead of other jurisdictions by publishing PPE contracts, with pricing details visible, to enable proper scrutiny.

This last measure could be extremely embarrassing considering revelations that the government has lost £15 billion worth of PPE.

If the government refuses to agree to these terms, it seems the Good Law Project has further legal challenges lined up which – if opposed by Hancock – mean the Secretary of State is likely only to end up wasting even more public money.

Source: The judgment is in – Good Law Project

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Tory tax avoidance advice firm had £145m Covid contract unlawfully, says lawyer

The ‘Big Four’ accountancy firm Deloitte is being pursued in the courts over a claim that a £145 million consultancy contract related to Covid-19 was handed to it unlawfully.

There’s also an issue over the fact that the Conservatives failed to announce details of the five-month contract until after it had expired.

Deloitte is well-known to the Tory government. One of the main accountancy firms involved in creating tax avoidance schemes, it also advised the Cameron government on – guess what? – tax avoidance.

This Writer has a feeling there may have been a conflict of interest there…

Now, Deloitte is being criticised after it received 25 Covid-related contracts, totalling £193.3 million, courtesy of Tory peer James Bethell, the government minister in charge of test and trace. Of these, five – worth £170.5 million – were awarded directly with no competition.

Lord Bethell previously ran a lobbying company that represented Deloitte as they won over £700 million of government contracts on Chris Grayling’s Work Programme schemes for the unemployed.

This Writer has a feeling there may have been a conflict of interest there, too…

The most important issue here is the misuse of public money.

In the Mirror article, Jolyon Maugham of the Good Law Project makes a good point:

“It’s like we set up a whole new Government department, but instead of civil servants paid £40k a year, it’s run by hundreds of private consultants for whom we pay £40k a month.”

That is not responsible use of public funds! Yet the Tories keep presenting themselves to us as the Party of Economic Responsibility.

It simply isn’t true.

They create money by the billion, shovel it out to their cronies and chums, and then tell those of us who don’t use Deloitte’s tax avoidance schemes that we have to pay for it in our tax bills!

It is corrupt; it is a perversion of government. It is exactly the kind of behaviour we have come to expect from Boris Johnson and his people. And it is right that it should be challenged.

Source: Lawyer says £145m Covid contract given to private company with Tory links ‘not lawful’ – Mirror Online

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If Boris Johnson wants to give cash to firms run by his cronies, why should we foot the bill?

Cronies: Dominic Cummings with Boris Johnson, whose government gave hundreds of thousands of pounds to a firm run by a former associate of the former and a woman who co-wrote the latter’s 2019 Conservative election manifesto.

Squirm as it may, Boris Johnson’s government cannot deny giving a hell of a lot of public money to Conservative Party cronies, bypassing the usual tendering system by claiming it is under emergency procedures.

So it cannot suggest it is unreasonable for the courts to investigate whether the process was used properly and the money given to professionals who could carry out the necessary work correctly.

In the case mentioned by the Mirror, it may prove hard to support a claim that the cash was handed over in a proper way.

It went to a firm run by a now-former associate of Dominic Cummings and a woman who co-wrote the Conservatives’ 2019 election manifesto.

And it is said that more than a quarter of a million pounds of public money was handed over to Public First on the basis of nothing more than a handshake.

According to Cabinet Office records, there seems to be some confusion about what the work entailed, as some of it is stated to be related to Brexit rather than Covid-19.

Public First was also involved in the fiasco in which an algorithm was devised to dictate the grades that ‘A’ level students would receive rather than taking the exams, after being granted a contract that, once again, was not put out to competitive tender.

The algorithm artificially boosted the results of pupils who attended private schools, while state school pupils’ grades plummeted – even in the most promising of cases.

Ofqual boss Sally Collier later resigned – apparently over the decision to provide the contract to Public First.

Prima facie evidence would suggest that there are questions to be asked about the firm’s competence.

And that leads This Writer to the following urgent question:

Given what we know about the nature of money – that it is created by the government and paid into the economy for particular purposes before being taxed out of it again, why should the public as a whole pay back in taxes the cost of an example of Tory Party cronyism that appears to have caused more harm than good?

Source: High Court ‘set to hear from Dominic Cummings’ over controversial Covid contract – Mirror Online

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Better late than never? Labour demand end to Tory ‘crony contracts’ SEVEN MONTHS after they were reported

Should we be applauding Labour’s demand for the Conservative government to stop handing contracts to firms with links to the Conservative Party?

If so, it should be the slow, mocking handclap that denotes disapproval. This move comes no less than seven months after the so-called Tory ‘chumocracy’ was revealed to the nation.

Did Rachel Reeves have to wait for a focus group to say it was okay to talk about this?

I think so.

And her words ring hollow.

She has said that a Labour government would overturn government outsourcing, bringing contracts back into the public sector, reform Freedom of Information rules to include companies who are awarded government contracts, create an ‘Anti-Corruption and anti-cronyism commissioner’ as a check on government contracts.

But we don’t have a Labour government. And the earliest we can now expect to get one is December 2024.

By then, knowing that Labour is now ruled by focus groups and by politicians who might as well be Tories themselves, we must expect all the policies to be different; Starmer Labour changes to reflect whatever it thinks will get it into power.

If Labour really cared about £2 billion of public money going into the hands of amateurs who did nothing with it, Reeves (or whoever) would have spoken out about it last July, when I did.

Doing it now only lays bare the cynicism at the hollow heart of Starmer Labour.

Source: Labour call for clean up of ‘crony contracts’ as £2bn in deals handed to Tory pals – Mirror Online

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Hancock cancelled contract for 8,000 private hospital beds as NHS facing overwhelming Covid-19 surge

Another smug Tory incompetent: how will Matt Hancock justify his latest catastrophic blunder?

What does it take to make an incompetent Conservative minister resign?

In Matt Hancock’s case, how many excess deaths? How many failures to order adequate equipment? How many dodgy contracts with Tory donors and friends of cabinet members?

Here’s his latest blunder – and it’s a doozy:

Desperate health chiefs have been barred from using thousands of emergency private hospital beds because Matt Hancock failed to renew vital contracts.

The astonishing blunder by the Health Secretary means the struggling NHS has been denied access to 8,000 much-needed extra beds as it faces being overwhelmed by Covid admissions.

Last night a record 37,475 people were in hospital in England with the virus – a third of total capacity.

Tonight a critical care unit nurse said: “It’s pure incompetence.”

It is.

But he remains Boris Johnson’s Health Secretary, in defiance of logic, endangering all our lives.

Of course, some might say that he should never have paid for those beds in the first place…

Agreed?

Source: Desperate medics lose 8,000 hospital beds after Matt Hancock’s NHS blunder – Mirror Online