The National:

IF your main source of news bulletins is the electronic media you may be surprised to learn that Health Secretary Matt Hancock got a bit of a rocket from a High Court judge this week. This is because a quite remarkable number of outlets seem to have found it less than newsworthy.

Not like a really, really important story about Harry Mountbatten-Windsor and his granny maybe having a bit of a tiff. Or Princess Eugenie having a wean. (He’s going to be called August pair wee sowel. Just as well he’ll likely be bound for a school awash with Crispins and Hugos.)

But I digress. Little Mr Hancock – he of the pink ties and permanently pained look – fell foul of government regulations by failing timeously to publish details of most of these fat contracts for Covid-related kit.

The Johnson Government has long argued that much was done in haste because of the nature of the pandemic crisis. Which doesn’t quite explain how coy they’ve been about who actually trousered the many billions involved.

Such detail as has been grudgingly supplied, did not normally emerge within 30 days of the awards as the rules require.

READ MORE: UK Government broke law by failing to disclose PPE contracts, High Court rules

So the Good Law Project - a well named outfit with other notches on their wigs like proving proroguing parliament was a no-no (with wur ain Jo Cherry in tow) - decided to take Mr Hancock’s department to court.

Oddly, for a government with their own battery of in house legal eagles, the Johnson administration insisted that their legal costs would be in the half a million smackers range.

This was clearly an attempt to dissuade all comers from risking an expensive failure to make their case.

The National: UK Health Secretary Matt HancockUK Health Secretary Matt Hancock

Happily, Mr Justice Chamberlain found all these shenanigans to have breached the “vital public function of transparency” over the not so small matter of shedloads of yours and my contributions to the Treasury being handed out without any tendering process.

M’Lud may just have been swayed by the nature of the three contracts the Good Law Project flagged up as their starter pack.

They have two things in common, the awards in question were worth a great deal of money and they all went to firms with no noticeable track record in the provision of medical equipment.

One specialises in financial investment packages, one sells sweeties, and one is more usually hired to get rid of rats, cockroaches and the like. As I say, not the most obvious track record for the job in hand.

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Talking of which, there is another court case in train involving pals of Dominic Cummings, the chap with the variable eyesight. It concerns a contract north of £500,000 given to Public First, a research group hired to test government pandemic messaging via focus groups.

Apparently the massed ranks of Public Health England and the National Health and Social Care communications departments just had nobody with the required skill set.

The National: Dominic Cummings is the Prime Minister's former special advisorDominic Cummings is the Prime Minister's former special advisor

According to Cummings’s original witness statement, and I quote: “I am a special adviser and as such I am not allowed to direct civil servants. However, as a result of my suggestion, I expected people to hire Public First.

“The nature of my role is that sometimes people take what I say as an instruction and that is a reasonable inference as people assume I am often speaking for the Prime Minister.”

Mr Cummings also assured the court: “Obviously I did not request Public First be brought in because they were my friends. I would never do such a thing.” Obviously.

A judgment in this case will decide whether this contract was awarded without bias or special favours. Just maybe, it might tickle the fancy of a few more news editors.