The High Court ruled this morning that former Health Secretary Matt Hancock broke the law by giving jobs to cronies during the covid pandemic.
The Mail Online is reporting this lunchtime:
Two judges ruled that former health secretary Matt Hancock did not comply with a public sector equality duty when appointing Conservative peer Baroness Dido Harding and Mike Coupe, a former Sainsbury’s colleague of Baroness Harding, to posts in 2020.
The duty prevents ministers making appointments from favouring friends, relatives or associates due to the harm this can cause on less well connected candidates, including ethnic minority and disabled people.
Judges concluded that Mr Hancock had breached the policy over the decisions to appoint Baroness Harding as interim executive chair of the National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP) in August 2020 and Mr Coupe as director of testing for NHS Test and Trace (NHSTT) in September 2020.
Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Swift said in a written ruling: ‘It is the process leading up to the two decisions which has been found by this court to be in breach of the public sector equality duty.
‘For those reasons we will grant a declaration to the Runnymede Trust that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care did not comply with the public sector equality duty in relation to the decisions how to appoint Baroness Harding as interim executive chair of the NIHP in August 2020 and Mr Coupe as director of testing for NHSTT in September 2020.’
Speaking after the announcement of the High Court decision, Dr Halima Begum, CEO of the Runnymede Trust, said:
“It shows the importance of the Public Sector Equality Duty and its role in protecting the people of this nation from the closed shop of Government appointments, not least in a time of national crisis where people from our minority communities were dying from Covid in hugely disproportionate numbers.
Across the country, there are countless talented and well qualified public health specialists and administrators who could have successfully fulfilled the roles handed to Baroness Harding and Mr Coupe, whether or not on the basis of their interest in horse racing or the fact that their husband attended Eton.
This includes members of our disabled and ethnic minority communities.”