Ally Cummings’ PR Firm Wins Covid-19 Contracts Without Tender | World news

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A lobbying and public relations firm co-founded by an ally of Dominic Cummings won two government contracts without tendering during the pandemic.The Cabinet Office and Treasury contracts were awarded to Hanbury Strategy, co-founded by Paul Stephenson, who worked alongside Cummings as communications director for the Vote Leave 2016 campaign. Hanbury’s other founder, Ameet Gill, was David Cameron’s director of strategy at Downing Street.

Hanbury is the fourth Tory-linked company to be granted work since the start of the pandemic under emergency rules that allow public bodies to bypass standard contracting rules requiring an open tendering process .

The Cabinet Office has not made public the existence of its contract with Hanbury, despite official guidelines that they should be made public within 30 days.

However, a Guardian Freedom of Information request revealed that the Cabinet Office had awarded Hanbury a contract worth potentially £ 900,000 over seven months to research “public attitudes and behavior in relation to The pandemic.

The company was hired on March 16, shortly before the UK blockade, although it was not until June 30 for the contract to be officially awarded. A government spokesman said the contract value was only for “possible expenses”; in the end, the Cabinet Office spent £ 580,000 on Hanbury before construction was completed in July.

As of June 11, the Treasury has further paid Hanbury £ 68,000 to conduct a weekly public poll, under a contract set to end next week. The Treasury contract was disclosed in a public contract database.

Both contracts were awarded to Hanbury without other companies having the opportunity to bid for the works. Under emergency procurement rules, government agencies were allowed to quickly outsource work to commercial enterprises without going through the usual competitive procedures.

Hanbury is the latest company linked to the Conservative Party or the Vote Leave campaign to have secured work under the fast-track procedures.

Topham Guerin, a political communications company behind the Conservative Party’s controversial digital campaign strategy for 2019, has secured a £ 3million government contract to work on Covid-19 messaging.

Public First, a political consultancy firm owned by two longtime partners of Cummings and Michael Gove, the secretary of the Cabinet Office, has secured contracts worth nearly £ 1million during the pandemic.

Faculty, an artificial intelligence company that was hired by Cummings to work on the Vote Leave campaign, is working on the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis, by modeling the data. The company has won at least 14 contracts at Whitehall over the past two years, worth a total of around £ 3million.

Ben Warner, a former faculty employee, worked with Cummings on the Vote Leave project, led the data modeling for the Tories’ general election campaign last year, and now works closely with Cummings as an advisor to Downing Street. His brother, Marc Warner, is co-founder and director general of the Faculty.

Hanbury also has close ties to the Prime Minister’s chief adviser and the Conservative Party. According to a report, Stephenson was one of the first people to be recruited by Cummings to work on the Brexit 2016 campaign. A former special adviser to two Tory ministers, Stephenson was a key figure in the Vote Leave campaign alongside Cummings. , its director.

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Three months after the 2016 EU referendum, Stephenson created Hanbury with Gill, a pro-European who was previously David Cameron’s strategy director at Downing Street. Another Hanbury partner is James Kanagasooriam, who led the Scottish Tories’ strategy in the 2017 general election. Other Hanbury partners have Labor or business background.

Hanbury has provided policy and communications advice to companies such as Amazon, Citibank and the UK Finance banking trade association. He also helped recruit political advisers for Downing Street and other parts of Boris Johnson’s government.

Downing Street and the Conservative Party have launched an unorthodox process of recruiting a new generation of political advisers. Hanbury was enlisted to carry out the initial assessment of candidates and make recommendations to Downing Street.

Cummings has in the past criticized the procurement rules. He wrote that the Whitehall procurement system “hugely favors large established companies with strong political ties – real corporate looters.”

The government has released some details of the two contracts that were awarded to Hanbury during the Covid-19 outbreak. The Guardian had requested a copy of the Hanbury contract under freedom of information laws. The Cabinet Office maintained that it was not required to release a copy at this time as it planned to release it in the future.

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