Matt Hancock is set to have his personal emails and WhatsApp messages traced as part of a legal battle over millions of pounds of antibody testing contracts handed out during the coronavirus pandemic.
A high court judge ordered that both government and non-official communications of the former health secretary used for Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) business should be searched for relevant material.
The proceedings were brought against DHSC by the Good Law Project, who claim more than £80m in contracts were awarded unlawfully. The legal campaign group says Abingdon Health received three contracts in April, June and August 2020 that were not published until October.
The Good Law Project also claims that the contracts were awarded secretly and directly to Abingdon Health, without advertising or competition, and that they “contain large unlawful public subsidies”.
Mr Hancock has denied any wrongdoing, and insisted he was not involved in awarding the contracts and that they were approved through formal processes.
Petitioning the High Court to order a search of the former health secretary’s “non-government communication systems” – which includes WhatsApp – Good Law Project barrister Joseph Barrett said Mr Hancock was the “final decision-maker” in awarding the contract. Were. And that he used multiple personal email accounts for government business.
Mr Barrett further alleged that DHSC had “either destroyed or otherwise kept beyond recovery or refused to search or disclose virtually all repositories and documents of the four most senior and important persons in the case”.
Philip Moser QC for DHSC, who is contesting the claim, argued that Mr Hancock’s role in awarding the contracts was “limited”.
“There is no reasonable basis for seeking such disclosure, as Mr. Hancock’s involvement in the issues in these proceedings was limited and, in any event, any communication from the then Secretary of State would have been intercepted by the existing disclosure exercise, “They said.
Ordering the search, Mr Justice Fraser said: “It seems to me that even if his involvement is described as ‘limited’, ‘limited’ may still be significant enough.”
Full testing is due from December 6.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /