A lobbying and PR firm co-founded by an ally of Dominic Cummings has been given two government contracts without competitive tenders during the pandemic.
The Cabinet Office and Treasury contracts have been awarded to Hanbury Strategy, co-founded by Paul Stephenson.
He worked alongside Cummings as the director of communications for the 2016 Vote Leave campaign.
The other Hanbury founder, Ameet Gill, was David Cameron’s director of strategy in Downing Street.
Hanbury is the fourth Tory-linked firm to have been awarded work since the start of the pandemic.
New emergency rules that allow public bodies to bypass the standard procurement rules requiring an open competitive tendering process.
The Cabinet Office awarded Hanbury a contract potentially worth £900,000 over seven months to research “public attitudes and behaviours in relation to” the pandemic.
The firm was hired on 16 March, shortly before Britain went into lockdown, although it took until 30 June for the contract to be formally awarded.
A government spokesperson said the value of the contract was only for “possible spend”.
In the end the Cabinet Office spent £580,000 on Hanbury before the work was brought to an end in July.
Since 11 June, the Treasury has additionally paid Hanbury £68,000 to conduct weekly public polling.
Other firms to get largess include Topham Guerin, a political communications company behind the Tory party’s 2019 digital campaign strategy.
It was given a £3 million government contract to work on Covid-19 messaging.
Public First, a political consultancy owned by two long-term associates of Cummings and Michael Gove has been given contracts worth nearly £1 million during the pandemic.
Faculty, an artificial intelligence firm hired by Cummings to work on the Vote Leave campaign, is working on the government’s response to the virus crisis.
The firm has been awarded at least 14 Whitehall contracts in the last two years, worth in total about £3 million.
Emergency services rescued numerous people from the waters of Lake Travis in Texas last Saturday after at least four boats sank at an event promoted as a Trump Boat Parade.
The Sheriff’s Office in Travis County received “multiple” calls of boats in distress. Video from the scene shows one boat full of Trump supporters sinking while its occupants cry out for help.
Steve Salinas, who helped organise the event, said the boat parade was “one way that Trump supporters can get out and express themselves without causing too much trouble or congestion in streets”.
Boris Johnson broke his own rules by speaking to Tory MPs at a meeting in the House of Commons.
Straight after the meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, Johnson’s office tweeted that meetings of more than 30 people are illegal and anyone attending could be fined £100.
But despite this at least 50 Conservative MPs were crammed into the room for his meeting.
Car parker’s furlough helps bumper profits
A Hospital parking firm has taken a taxpayer bailout to pay staff despite bumper profits of £1.3 million.
UK Parking Control (UKPC), run by Rupert Williams and wife Amanda, used the job retention scheme to fund part of its wage bill during the pandemic.
UKPC has 248 staff and runs 2,000 car parks—many at NHS hospitals.
Turnover last year was £14 million, profits rose £200,000 and Williams paid himself nearly £447,000 in salary and dividends.
The figures sparked fresh anger at rip-off hospital parking fees. Fees were suspended at hospitals shortly after Britain went into lockdown. But some health trusts are now planning to reintroduce them.
UKPC has been suspended twice by the DVLA, which provides driver details to enforce fines. In 2015 the company admitted faking time stamps on tickets to catch out legally-parked drivers.
Leaked memos show Johnson a Trump fan
Boris Johnson privately told US diplomats that Donald Trump was “making America great again” according to a cache of official notes taken during high-level Britain-US meetings.
Johnson is quoted telling the US ambassador to Britain in August 2017, when he was foreign secretary, that Trump was doing “fantastic stuff” on foreign policy.
Johnson claimed Trump was becoming “increasingly popular” in Britain and spoke warmly about how under his leadership America was “back and engaged in the world”. The US president wondered why there was so much “hatred” in Northern Ireland.
He went on to ask the then prime minister Theresa May during a lunch why Johnson was not prime minister.
Trump was said to have been “hectoring” towards May in “nightmare” phone calls.
Bigot Abbott gets trade job
Australian ex-prime minister Tony Abbott has been handed a plum position advising Britain’s Board of Trade—despite his bigoted attitudes towards women and LGBT+ people.
Abbott described climate change as “probably doing good, or at least, more good than harm.”
The right winger has been officially confirmed in the post after days of controversy about his appointment.
But confronted about his past comments, ministers have fobbed critics off.
Asked by Sky News’ Kay Burley why the government was appointing a “homophobe and a misogynist” health secretary Matt Hancock said, “He’s also an expert in trade.”
Lib Dems battered
The New leader of the yellow Tories—the Liberal Democrats—Ed Davey began his nationwide “listening tour” at a chip shop.
Davey said he is sick and tired of getting battered at the polls. He is certain that there is a plaice for the Lib Dems. Troublemaker is less sure.
Disabled people are pushed out
Disabled people are being “pushed out” of a post-lockdown world with many anxious to leave the house, a charity has warned.
Scope said disabled people had been “routinely forgotten” in the pandemic.
It also said queuing to get into shops, public toilet restrictions and a lack of parking due to the redesigning of towns and cities, had left many disabled people worried and confused.
Scope said it has been inundated with calls from disabled people and their families.
The things they say...
‘The Left don’t care about Costa staff losing their jobs, they just want covid to wreck capitalism’
The Mail on Sunday columnist Dan Hodges is looking out for the coffee shop workers
‘Tell me one country run by a black person that isn’t a shithole. They are all complete fucking toilets’
Donald Trump to his then fixer Michael Cohen
‘Like the blacks, they’re too stupid to vote for Trump’
Donald Trump explains why Hispanic people didn’t vote for him
'Cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man’
Michael Cohen on Trump
‘It looks like this government licks its finger and sticks it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing’
Sir Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the Tory 1922 committee