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Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Tory-linked PR firm gets government contract

Here we go again. The Guardian reports that a PR firm owned by Matthew Freud, who was closely associated with the Conservatives during David Cameron’s time as prime minister, has been awarded a contract to provide “strategic communications”, including “reputation management”, for England’s beleaguered coronavirus test-and-trace system without a tender process.

They say the contract with Freud Communications Limited was for services to be carried out between 1 November last year and 15 January this year but it only came to light after details were published on a government website on 19 February. They appeared on the same day as a high court judge ruled that Matt Hancock acted unlawfully by failing to publish details of multibillion-pound Covid-19 government contracts within the 30-day period required by law, amid allegations of “chumocracy” and lack of transparency in the awarding of contracts during the pandemic:

Although the start date for the £55,000 contract with Freud Communications was 1 November, the government website says it was awarded on 8 February 2021.

Freud, a friend of Cameron and George Osborne, is listed by the Electoral Commission as having made a one-off non-cash donation of £11,000, relating to travel, to the Conservative party in 2008. When married to Elisabeth Murdoch, he was part of the Chipping Norton set.

Gemma Abbott, the legal director of Good Law Project, which brought the high court action against the government, said of the contract: “Another day, another deal awarded with only a handshake and documented later. The fact we are just seeing the details of this arrangement now, months after work began and after the work has already been completed, speaks volumes about this government’s complete disregard for transparency.

“For the sake of good governance and protecting taxpayers’ money, government must get its house in order on procurement.”

The £12bn NHS test-and-trace system, which despite its moniker has been outsourced to private contractors, has been beset by criticism. In October, shortly before the start of the Freud Communications contract, Boris Johnson and his chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, admitted to failings, with the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) describing the success of the supposedly “world-beating” system as “marginal”. Other experts have claimed it is not fit for purpose.

Time for some accountability.
Time for some accountability.It would be a good idea if Starmer did his job and opposed all the dodgy goings on of this Tory Govnt.
Hancock seems to have got away with it.Enboldened by this it leaves open to further abuses that can lead to serious law breakages that could endanger the countries future.ALL abuses will have to be fought to control the country going down a slippery slope
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