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Saturday, May 01, 2021

The exclusive WhatsApp group and PPE deals

Just when you thought the Tory government's awarding of Covid PPE contracts coouldn't get any more chummy, a High Court judge has ordered Matt Hancock to hand over texts and WhatsApp messages that could shed light on how they were administered.

The Mirror reports the court was told that the Government used an exclusive WhatsApp group to give "VIP" company CEOs information about its PPE requirements:

The Good Law Project has been pursuing the government in the High Court to reveal details of the 'VIP' fast lane for Covid contracts.

Evidence brought up in court today suggests the government used a WhatsApp group of 200 company CEOs to "provide special communications (apparently unavailable to other suppliers) about its forecast PPE requirements."

The existence of the group was revealed for the first time today, in a meeting agenda from last April, disclosed to the court by the Government.

It reads: "[Redacted] to connect with [Redacted] and confirm preferred way forward to sharing communications with CEOs and CPOs (Chief product officers)

"Note: There is a WhatsApp group with [circa] 200 CEO and this is informal way to communicate. There is also a separate channel to CPOs)"

But Government lawyers have so far failed to disclose any text or instant messages to the court.

Today the court ordered Mr Hancock to search for and disclose "texts and WhatsApp messages for some selected civil servants.”

The Government were also ordered to pay the Good Law Project’s legal costs.

A spokesperson for the Project said: "We believe we are left in a position of being unable fairly to interrogate and challenge the account given by Government in its evidence."

Once more there is a lack of transparency in how these contracts were awarded and in particular how various acquaintances of Government Ministers and Tory Party donors succeeded in winning these contracts. It is time that all the facts were in the public domain.
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