The appointments to three top jobs combatting Covid-19 are to come under an official legal challenge in the high court. Legal representation on behalf of campaigners will argue that the Prime Minister and Health Secretary, Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock respectively, acted in a discriminatory way in order to appoint friends or associates to top positions.
The case is being brought jointly by the UK’s leading race equality thinktank, the Runnymede Trust, along with the Good Law Project.
The complaints centre around three main appointments made at the apex of the coronavirus crisis. Specifically, the appointment of Conservative peer Dido Harding as the head of NHS Test and Trace, Mike Coupe as director or testing at NHS Test and Trace, and Kate Bingham as the head of the UK’s vaccine task force.
Despite the government defending its appointments on the basis of haste during an emergency, they will be challenged that the appointees were not given their positions on the basis on merit but at least partly on their connections to the Conservative Party.
The case is separate from another involving Matt Hancock, also brought by the Good Law Project, that he had acted unlawfully when he failed to publish contracts worth billions of pounds within the thirty day period required by law.
Regulations state that all contracts worth more than £10,000 need to be published and sent for publication within 30 days of being awarded. However, only £2.68bn or £15bn worth of PPE contracts had been published by the Department of Health and Social Care.
Claimants against the government appointments have said that they are not seeking to remove anyone from their posts, but are acting to ensure that future governments have more stringent checks and balances when making public appointments.