The Good Law Project dropped its legal challenge to the government’s recruitment of Kate Bingham as chair of the Vaccine Task Force, who alleged that he failed to follow a valid process and assigned key roles in the pandemic to people with strong ties to the Conservative Party.
In the same lawsuit, the GLP is upholding its challenge to the appointments of Dido Harding as head of the NHS test and trace, and Mike Coupe, who previously worked with Harding at Sainsbury’s, as director of tests.
The government defended the lawsuit, now that the appointments were all fair and legal, and recently released a detailed defense outlining the circumstances of the recruitment process, which led the GLP to drop its action against Bingham.
The government’s detailed defense document will not be made public until the case has been heard – no date has yet been set – but Jolyon Maugham, GLP director, said Bingham’s appointment process , although it did not go through an open publicity process, had been better than expected.
“We are not letting go of the challenge or the point of principle that fair, open and transparent recruitment processes deliver better results to the public,” Maugham said. “None of these recruiting processes during the pandemic were optimal; we’re still unhappy with the government’s explanations for Dido Harding and Mike Coupe, but they’ve provided a better explanation for Kate Bingham, and it’s our responsibility not to go any further.
Bingham is a managing partner of venture capital firm SV Health Investments. Her appointment to the unpaid role of leading the UK’s efforts to secure Covid-19 vaccines was officially made by Johnson last May, and she reported directly to the Prime Minister.
Along with Harding, who was named a Conservative peer by David Cameron in 2014, his appointment led to claiming that they were part of a “chumocracy”.
The government has vigorously defended all of his appointments and praised Bingham for his accomplishments in investing in the manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines and securing 350 million doses, saying in a public statement in November:
“Kate Bingham is uniquely qualified for the role of President, having worked in the biotechnology and life sciences industries for 30 years. While not specifically a vaccine expert, she is a proven drug discovery expert with superb negotiating skills and an excellent global reputation, recently appearing alongside Bill Gates at the Gates Grand Challenge Conference.
Earlier this month, Bingham was awarded the Lady title for her work on the vaccine operation on the Queen’s Birthday Honors List.