“Transparency drives everything that the Government do”

Michael Gove, House of Commons

March 25, 2021

The Cabinet Office Secretary Michael Gove told the House of Commons that “transparency drives everything that the Government do.”

Facts

An OpenDemocracy investigation revealed that the present government has granted fewer - and rejected more - Freedom of Information requests than ever before.

OpenDemocracy has also revealed that the Johnson government has spent at least half a million pounds on legal fees trying to prevent the release of information under FOI legislation. 

Indeed, the government was rebuked by the High Court for failing to publish Covid-19 contracts throughout the pandemic, despite Johnson telling MPs that the Covid contracts were “on the record for everyone to see”. The High Court confirmed that 100 contracts had yet to be revealed at the time the PM made his comments.

The High Court ruled that Matt Hancock acted unlawfully when his department failed to publish award notices for contracts it had agreed during the Covid pandemic within 30 days of them being signed.

Johnson’s government was also found to be in breach of the Ministerial Code when it failed to publish ministerial interests for more than nine months, also as disclosed by the website Open Democracy.

Verdict

Gove’s statement was simply wrong, and as Cabinet Office minister he should have known this. His misleading statement should be classified as a lie in that Gove must have known perfectly well that he was uttering a falsehood. Gove’s lie remains on the Hansard record in defiance of the Ministerial Code. Boris Johnson had made a similar false claim about government transparency a few weeks earlier when he told MPs that the Covid contracts were “on the record for everyone to see”.

PreviousNext