TCC orders disclosure of Matt Hancock’s personal communications in judicial review


On Thursday, Mr Justice Fraser handed down his judgment (available here) on various applications made by the Good Law Project against the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, in the context of a judicial review challenge to various contracts to Abingdon Health Ltd. GLP challenges the awards and conduct of the contract on the basis of breaches of procurement law, public law, and state aid principles. 

The judgment is notable in two main respects:

  • The judgment records the Court’s order that Mr Hancock’s personal emails and apps (WhatsApp etc.) should be searched for relevant documents. This appears to be the first occasion on which the personal documents of a (then) Secretary of State have been ordered to be searched in judicial review. 
  • The judgment also contains important guidance on the principles applicable to expert evidence in judicial review, reiterating the importance of full compliance with the CPR and the Civil Justice Council Guidance on the instruction of experts. Despite finding that the evidence was ‘reasonably required to resolve the proceedings’, the Court refused to permit the evidence of the Defendant’s state aid expert to be adduced, as the expert had had conversations with the Defendant’s witnesses and with staff of Abingdon Health which had not been explained or evidenced in the Defendant’s evidence. 

Joseph Barrett and Rupert Paines act for the Good Law Project, instructed by Alex Rook and Alice Cullingwork of Rook Irwin Sweeney LLP.