THE UK Government has been told it has until next week to reveal which companies were handed multi-million pound Test and Trace contracts via an unlawful VIP fast-track system and by who.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has now intervened on behalf of the Good Law Project (GLP) to ensure the Government responds to the non-profit organisation’s request.
GLP has been trying for more than a year to obtain the names of the 50 firms which benefited from the £37 billion scheme as well as ministers, peers, and government officials who referred them.
It originally submitted an Freedom of Information request to the Department of Health and Social Care which was then transferred to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) which has repeatedly postponed providing the information.
The ICO – set up to uphold information rights in the public interest – has now given the UKHSA until Tuesday, August 9, to respond after GLP asked it to intervene.
While the UKHSA says it is writing to the 50 firms concerned, it has not confirmed it will publish the names.
Jo Maugham, director of Good Law Project, said: “If the Government has nothing to hide, why not just publish the names?
“The public has a right to know who was awarded taxpayers’ money, what their links were to those in Government or other people in power, and on what basis they were awarded the contracts.
“We have repeatedly shown that during the pandemic there was a VIP fast lane system for certain companies; the public has a right to know who profited from this.”
GLP successfully sued the Government in January over its preferential treatment of certain companies when it came to awarding lucrative PPE contracts.
The High Court ruled the operation of a VIP lane for handing out the deals to politically-connected companies was unlawful.
Earlier this year GLP also revealed there was a VIP fast track system for certain testing firms, which were awarded multi-million pound contracts outside of the normal procurement process.