LONDON – Britain’s government has won its bid to overturn a ruling that it acted unlawfully when it gave a contract to a public relations firm run by associates of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings.
A Court of Appeal ruling published on Tuesday overturned a decision made in June which said the government had shown “apparent bias” in awarding more than 560,000 pounds ($794,000) to Public First to test public opinion on the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The appeal court ruling set out that a fair-minded and reasonably informed observer would not have concluded that failing to carry out comparative procurement exercises created a possibility that the decision-maker was biased.
Nor, the ruling said, would an observer have concluded, given the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, that the absence of any formal record of the decision-making process was indicative of apparent bias.
Public First is run by James Frayne and Rachel Wolf, both of whom previously worked with Cummings and senior minister Michael Gove. Cummings quit as Johnson’s chief adviser in Nov. 2020.