Gove Used Emergency Covid Contract for Unionist Campaigning

Calls for an inquiry onto gross misuse of public money.

The SNP has called for an inquiry into the misuse of public money by Tory ministers – after it emerged Michael Gove (pictured) ordered officials to use an emergency COVID contract, publicly-funded to tackle the pandemic, to conduct political research for Tory constitutional campaigning.

The shocking new revelations, published on the front page of The Herald, show that during the height of the deadly pandemic Mr Gove instructed officials to commission political research on “attitudes to the UK Union” using the emergency contract given to Public First for pandemic research to tackle COVID-19 and help saves lives.

Michael Gove has already been found to have acted unlawfully in awarding the £560,000 emergency COVID contract to the market-research firm, owned by long-term associates James Frayne and Rachel Wolf, who both formerly worked for Mr Gove, which earlier this month High Court Judge Mrs Justice O’Farrell ruled “gave rise to apparent bias and was unlawful”.

Evidence published in the High Court judgement on The Good Law Project vs Minister for the Cabinet Office, reveal that the services provided by Public First under the emergency COVID-19 contract were extended in July 2020, on the “urgent” orders of Michael Gove, to include qualitative research into ‘attitudes to the UK Union’.

Commenting, SNP Westminster Deputy Leader Kirsten Oswald MP said:

“It is a scandal that in the midst of a deadly pandemic, Tory ministers were misusing emergency COVID-19 contracts for constitutional campaigning instead of saving lives.

“This is a gross misuse of public money and emergency COVID contracts, which existed to tackle the pandemic.

“There must be an inquiry and those responsible must be held to account.

“Michael Gove has already been found to have acted unlawfully by awarding a £560,000 contract to his long-term associates.

“This Tory government is engulfed in cronyism.

“It absolutely stinks that so much public money has been handed to Tory friends and donors through emergency COVID contracts – but now we know that some of this money was shockingly being spent on Tory constitutional campaigning.

“The UK government has already been officially criticised for not publishing publicly-funded research on attitudes to the Union but we now find they were using public money meant to tackle the pandemic for this work.

“There must be full transparency on what taxpayers’ money has been spent on and how on earth this was allowed to happen.”