HEALTH Secretary Matt Hancock acted unlawfully when he did not reveal the details of billions of pounds’ worth of contracts his department had signed during the pandemic.

The finding is a result of legal action taken by Good Law Project and Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas.

The judge ruled the Health Secretary had “breached his legal obligation” after his department failed to publish details within 30 days of contracts being signed.

He said that the public had the right to know where the “cast” amount of money had been spent.

Caroline Lucas joined the Good Law Project in bringing the case

Caroline Lucas joined the Good Law Project in bringing the case

Labour claimed the government's awarding of contracts throughout the pandemic had been "plagued by a lack of transparency, cronyism and waste".

The government said it fully recognised the "importance of transparency".

Campaign group the Good Law Project was joined by three MPs, which also included Labour's Debbie Abrahams and Lib Dem Layla Moran, in taking the legal action.

The law states that the government must publish a “contract award notice” within 30 days of awarding a contract.

In the ruling, Mr Justice Chamberlain said: "There is now no dispute that, in a substantial number of cases, the secretary of state breached his legal obligation to publish contract award notices within 30 days of the award of contracts.

"There is also no dispute that the secretary of state failed to publish redacted contracts in accordance with the transparency policy."

Mr Justice Chamberlain said the situation the DHSC faced in the first months of the pandemic was “unprecedented”, when “large quantities of goods and services had to be procured in very short timescales”.

The judge said it was “understandable that attention was focused on procuring what was thought necessary to save lives”.

But he added that the DHSC’s “historic failure” to comply with the obligations to publish contracts because of the difficulties caused by the pandemic was “an excuse, not a justification”.