UK government faces new lawsuits over handling of coronavirus pandemic
Legislators file judicial review to force disclosure of details of Covid-19 contracts awarded to companies
London — UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government faces two new lawsuits over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic as it is preparing to roll out tough new restrictions.
Three legislators filed a so-called judicial review to force the government to disclose the details of Covid-19 contracts awarded to private companies. In a separate case, restaurant and pub owners are challenging rules designed to reduce infections in northern England.
The UK government has faced multiple lawsuits over its response to the coronavirus, from the availability of medical equipment to student exam results. The legal manoeuvres can force officials to explain the reasoning behind policies or even make them abandon some measures.
The three opposition MPs — Debbie Abrahams, Caroline Lucas and Layla Moran — argue that the government has failed to release information on £3bn worth of coronavirus contracts awarded to private companies.
“What has that money been spent on? Who has it been spent with?” the Good Law Project, which has backed several judicial reviews against Johnson’s government, said in a statement. The law requires the government to publish details of contracts within 30 days of the award, the project’s backers said.
“The government’s persistent failure to abide by this law makes it impossible for these contracts to be properly scrutinised.”
In northern England, the Night Time Industries Association (Ntia) is filing a challenge to a swathe of rules that will close down bars and restaurants for months in response to a rapid rise in virus infections across the region. But the hospitality group says the new restrictions aren’t backed up by science.
“This next round of restrictions are hugely disproportionate and unjust,” Michael Kill, CEO of the Ntia, said. “Systematic closure of businesses across the UK must be challenged when there is no clear evidence or reason.”
Johnson’s media office said they don’t comment on legal proceedings, but emphasised that the prime minister hadn’t even laid out the new restrictions in front of parliament. The Guardian newspaper previously reported on both lawsuits.
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