Michael Bowsher QC, Ewan West, and Anneliese Blackwood (with Sir James Eadie QC) acted for the Minister for the Cabinet Office, instructed by the Treasury Solicitor. Alfred Artley was also instructed on the Minister’s behalf at an earlier stage in the proceedings.
The facts of this case may be familiar. In late February 2020, the need for the Government to respond to the coronavirus pandemic was becoming ever more urgent and apparent, which required – in particular – accurate information on the public’s understanding of Covid-19 at the time. On 27 February 2020, Mr Alex Aiken, Executive Director for Government Communication, raised with his team the need for urgent focus group testing of Covid-19 issues, the results of which could be provided to No. 10 at 15.00 the following day. Public First – the interested party in this case – was already scheduled to conduct focus groups on the evening of the 27th, and it was suggested that these focus groups be re-tasked to conduct the necessary Covid-19 research.
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