Sir Keir Starmer defends Matt Hancock after he acted unlawfully by failing to publish Covid contracts worth millions

Starmer has refused to back calls for Matt Hancock to quit

Sir Keir Starmer is taking supporting the Tories one step further, He is now defending them

This week campaign group the Good Law Project and three MPs – Labour’s Debbie Abrahams, Green Caroline Lucas and Lib Dem Layla Moran – took legal action against the Department of Health over its “wholesale failure” to disclose details of the contracts agreed.

The judge ruled the health secretary had “breached his legal obligation” by not publishing details within 30 days of contracts being signed.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, acted unlawfully by failing to publish multibillion-pound Covid-19 government contracts within the 30-day period required by law, a high court judge has ruled.

The judge, Mr Justice Chamberlain, ruled the failure to do so breached the “vital public function” of transparency over how “vast quantities” of taxpayers’ money was spent.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was directly asked if Matt Hancock should ‘resign’ Sir Keir Starmer said:

“he would not call for Mr Hancock to resign over the court ruling, saying it was “not what the public really want to see”.

But he told Sky News there had been “a lot of problems… on transparency and on who the contracts went to”, as well as “a lot of wasted money [which is] a real cause for concern”.

Other Labour MPs have said the health secretary should quit, including Nadia Whittome, who tweeted: “In what other job could you break the law and be let off?”

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) struck deals worth hundreds of millions of pounds during the coronavirus pandemic.

Campaign group the Good Law Project and three MPs – Labour’s Debbie Abrahams, Green Caroline Lucas and Lib Dem Layla Moran – took legal action against the Department of Health over its “wholesale failure” to disclose details of the contracts agreed.

Under the law, the government is required to publish a “contract award notice” within 30 days of the awarding any contracts for public goods or services worth more than £120,000.

in open court, lawyers acting on behalf of the Government admitted it had breached the law by persistently failing to publish details of COVID-19 contracts. 

Government in breach of the law

But in his ruling, Mr Justice Chamberlain said: “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.

“There is also no dispute that the secretary of state failed to publish redacted contracts in accordance with the transparency policy.”

The judge called it an “historic failure” by the department, adding: “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.”

In 0ctober 2020 Starmer refused to back his deputy’s call for Matt Hancock to quit after yet another pandemic-related blunder.

The Labour leader said deputy party chief Angela Rayner had been expressing national “frustration” when she called for the Health Secretary to “consider his position”.

Asked twice if he backed Rayner’s stance, Starmer told reporters: “I think Angela was probably expressing a frustration that is deeply felt across the country.

“What I want is for the Government to concentrate on the job in hand and for Matt Hancock and others to get on and deliver what they are promising.

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