MATT Hancock has refused to resign over a court ruling which found he had unlawfully failed to publish details of billions of pounds' worth of coronavirus-related contracts within the required time.

A High Court judge ruled on Friday that the failure to publish details of the multibillion-pound deals within the 30-day period required by law breached the “vital public function” of transparency over how “vast quantities” of taxpayers’ money was spent.

Appearing on Sky News this morning, Hancock was asked if he would resign over the matter and he said he would not.

"No, that's not quite right," he told presenter Sophy Ridge.

"The court case did not find there was a problem with any of the contracts. It found that whereas we are supposed to publish the details of the contracts within 30 days of them being signed on average we published them at the heat of the crisis on average 47 days after they were signed."

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Last year, UK ministers and officials refused to admit which companies were awarded multimillion-pound Covid-19 contracts after being processed in a high-priority channel for firms with political connections.

A report by the National Audit Office said a government unit, set up to procure PPE in a highly unusual departure from standard procurement practice, established the high-priority lane to deal with leads “from government officials, ministers’ offices, MPs and members of the House of Lords, senior NHS staff and other health professionals”.

Almost 500 companies given high priority due to such connections secured contracts to supply PPE with 10 times the success rate of nearly 15,000 companies that were not given enhanced attention

The Health Secretary told Sky: "On average, we published them just over a fortnight later than they should have been, and there's a reason for that, and the reason is that there was a global shortage of PPE and we needed to buy PPE to save lives.

"My officials, with my full support, spent every waking hour buying PPE so that even though we came close we never actually ran out of PPE in this country - and they did that even though the paperwork got delayed by, on average, just over a fortnight.

"That's what the court found and I - and I think any secretary of state in my position - would absolutely back my officials in doing the right thing and saving lives."

He said the Government would "commit to publishing on the standard basis what is legally required and what is normal to publish".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer did not call for Matt Hancock's resignation following a court ruling that he acted unlawfully over coronavirus contracts.

The High Court ruled the Government unlawfully failed to publish details of billions of pounds' worth of public contracts.

Sir Keir told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "I don't want to call for him to resign. I do think he is wrong about the contracts - there have been problems with the contracts, on transparency, on who the contracts have gone to.

"There's been a lot of wasted money and I think that is a real cause for concern.

"But, at the moment, at this stage of the pandemic, I want all Government ministers working really hard to get us through."

The SNP were asked by The National whether Hancock should resign.

The party's MP Owen Thompson - who has brought forward the Ministerial Interest (Emergency Powers) Bill which seeks to instruct ministers to answer questions about any personal, political or financial connections they may have to a company that is awarded a government contract - said Parliament must press Hancock on the matter after it returns from recess, this Wednesday.

"The High Court's ruling that Matt Hancock acted unlawfully over his department's handling of contracts raises serious questions over how the Tory government has spent billions of pounds of taxpayers' money, and the manner in which it has rewarded friends, party donors and acquaintances with lucrative contracts," said Thompson.

"The UK government cannot simply brush this under the carpet. It is now vital that when Parliament returns from recess that the Health Secretary comes before Parliament to address the High Court's ruling.

"With Tory cronyism rampant in government, it is vital that opposition parties now back my Bill to ensure UK government ministers are held to account over their decisions and that there is transparency over how taxpayers’ money is spent.”

Earlier in the Sky News interview Hancock said the UK Government believed it had the vaccine supplies to meet the new target of offering all adults a jab by the end of July.

"We now think that we have the supplies to be able to do that, we can see the NHS and all of those partners and all of those working on this have been able to deliver jabs at about half-a-million a day, which is an incredible effort," he told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

"So, collectively, the whole team now needs to focus on this renewed target of all vulnerable groups, all those over 50 by April 15 and then we will keep rolling out and make sure that all adults get access to the jab."

Professor Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said he expected an announcement to be made around vaccine priorities some time in the next week.

Asked about a new priority list for people under 50, he told BBC Breakfast: "The strategy from JCVI that's being provided as advice to the Government is just being finalised at the moment, and then Government will make their decision as to how to do this during the coming days, so I think there'll be some kind of public announcement around that in the next week or so."

He said he could not say what he expected the priorities would be because that is something to be announced by the Government, not JCVI.

He added: "I think from what we've heard from Government already, the emphasis is on getting the programme done as fast as possible, but beyond that I can't make any further comment."

Hancock has insisted it is right to take a "cautious" approach to easing lockdown restrictions despite the vaccine programme going "very well".