Dominic Cummings has informed a decide he didn’t ask for an organization to be given a authorities contract as a result of bosses there have been his “mates”.
Mr Cummings, a former senior aide to Boris Johnson, stated he would “by no means do such a factor” and defended the awarding of the contract to Public First.
The Good Legislation Challenge has launched a Excessive Court docket battle with the Cupboard Workplace, complaining about an settlement struck for focus group and communications assist providers.
A barrister representing the Good Legislation Challenge, which says it makes use of the legislation to guard the pursuits of the general public, stated the contract was given to Public First as a result of that’s what Mr Cummings, the prime minister’s former senior aide, wished.
“Public First was awarded this contract as a result of Dominic Cummings wished Public First to have this contract,” Jason Coppel QC informed Mrs Justice O’Farrell at a digital Excessive Court docket listening to.
“No different supplier was thought-about.”
He stated greater than £500,000 had been spent and informed the decide that it was “not strictly obligatory” to award the contract to Public First with out competitors.
Ministers are battling in opposition to the declare, whereas Mr Cummings defended the selection of Public First in a written witness assertion ready for the litigation and seen by the decide.
He stated Britain had been going through an emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic and “the award of the contract at once” was “solely justified”.
“Clearly I didn’t request Public First be introduced in as a result of they have been my mates,” stated Mr Cummings.
“I’d by no means do such a factor.”
He added: “I used to be the prime minister’s fundamental political adviser from July 2019 till November 2020.
“Due to COVID in 2020, this function concerned problems with administration and procurement way over it did political recommendation.
“An enormous a part of my job was fixing Whitehall issues – particularly attempting to eradicate obstacles and to get the fitting individuals into the fitting roles and the fitting conferences.”
Mr Cummings stated he’s mates with individuals concerned with the organisation, together with director James Frayne, however added he had not met Mr Frayne since 2016.
“James Frayne and I labored on the Euro marketing campaign 20 years in the past, different political points, and arrange the marketing campaign to combat the proposed formation of a regional meeting in north-east England in 2004,” he stated.
“I’ve talked to them extensively about focus teams and public opinion over a few years.
“I knew from my expertise that Public First have been excellent at operating focus teams and that its key employees had thought extensively about how individuals who often ignore most information and political communication assume and may be influenced.
“I knew that I may depend on them to make an additional effort, past what they have been paid to do.
“I knew they might give us trustworthy data, in contrast to many corporations on this sector.
“Only a few corporations on this discipline are competent, nearly none are very competent, trustworthy and dependable.”
Mr Cummings stated he had “no involvement” in contractual preparations with Public First “or their remuneration” – and declared that their work was “value greater than each penny spent”.
“I used to be below the impression that, offered we have been performing genuinely in gentle of an emergency, that the courts in a while would perceive that we couldn’t spend weeks on procurement within the regular manner once we had hours to behave and save lives,” he stated.