Important judgment on equalities impact of Government appointments


The High Court has handed down an important judgment in the case of R (Runnymede Trust and Good Law Project) v SoS for Health and Social Care and the Prime Minister [2022] EWHC 298 (Admin).  The Claimants had argued that the “closed” and unremunerated appointments of Dido Harding (as the Chair of Test and Trace, and then the Interim Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection) and Mike Coupe (as the Director of Testing at Test and Trace) were discriminatory and breached the public sector equality duty, and that Mike Coupe’s appointment was tainted by apparent bias. The Court found that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care had breached the PSED in relation to the decisions on how to make Dido Harding’s NIHP appointment, and Mike Coupe’s appointment.  The claims against the Prime Minister and claims brought by the Good Law Project were dismissed. The court held that the appointments were not discriminatory, and that principles of apparent bias did not apply to employment decisions such as this. The judgment also contained some significant analysis on the standing of campaigning organisations to bring judicial review claims, as well as standing in the context of discrimination claims generally.

Jason Coppel QC and Hannah Slarks acted for the Claimants.
Julian Milford QC and Julian Blake acted for the Defendants.