Another historic loss for Jolyon and his learned friends today, as the High Court of Justice has thrown out the Good Law Project’s claim that Dido Harding’s appointment as interim chair of the National Institute for Health Protection was the result of nepotism on the grounds that “the evidence provides no support for this at all”:
“The Claimants’ next point is the requirement for personal or political connections with the decision-maker. The evidence provides no support for this at all. Baroness Harding had previous relevant experience of senior positions in large retail businesses and in the NHS. Mr Coupe had vast experience of managing complex public-facing organisations.“
The judge goes on to make it clear just how pointless and unsubstantiated the GLP’s challenge is:
“The collective effect of the conclusions set out during this judgment is that the claim brought by Good Law Project fails in its entirety. The claim by the Runnymede Trust fails on Grounds 1 and 3; it succeeds on Ground 2 only to the extent that the decisions on the process to be used when appointing to the positions of Interim Chair of NIHP in August 2020, and Director of Testing at NHSTT in September 2020 were made without compliance with the public sector equality duty.”
The last part is crucial: Jolyon is now trying to spin this narrow victory for the Runnymede Trust – not the Good Law Project – as his own win. Hancock’s appointment of Harding was found unlawful only in the respect that it failed to comply with public sector equality laws, which were of course of secondary importance in the pandemic emergency. That wasn’t the Good Law Project’s claim, that was Runnymede’s. Jolyon is now trying to take credit on his blog for a judgement he wasn’t responsible for, while conveniently ignoring the fact that his own claim completely failed…
The Good Law Project is over-egging the judge’s ruling in favour of one out of three of the Runnymede Trust’s claims with their headline, “High Court rules Dido Harding and Mike Coupe appointments were unlawful”:
“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.”
Essentially it was the process, not the appointments themselves, which breached equality law. Guido suspects the millions of people who have had their lives saved by the vaccine so far may not be that concerned about this process-obsessed court conclusion…
UPDATE: Government spokesperson smacks down the Good Law Project, saying the “judgment is clear that all claims raised by the Good Law Project were dismissed and the ruling itself stated their claim ‘fails in its entirety’.
“The Court also found that the Good Law Project had no standing to bring any of its grounds of challenge.
“We used the skills and expertise of both the public and private sector to rapidly build a world-leading testing infrastructure, speeding up the delivery of tests and ultimately saving more lives, especially amongst the most vulnerable.”