Boris Johnson is facing a corruption legal battle over whether his party has been funnelling taxpayer cash into Tory areas to give it a political advantage.
The High Court will decide whether the PM’s £4.8bn “Levelling Up Fund” unlawfully and systematically sent cash to areas considered to be “of political benefit to the Conservative party”.
Judges agreed to hear a legal challenge brought by the Good Law Project, stating: “The grounds are arguable.”
The lawsuit, formally filed against Rishi Sunak, Robert Jenrick and Grant Shapps in their government roles, could find that the centrepiece of the government’s so-called “levelling-up” agenda is unlawful.
The leafy market town constituencies of Mr Sunak and Mr Jenrick are among the areas to benefit from an unusual funding formula that critics accused of amounting to “pork barrel politics”.
Campaigners cited an investigation by the National Audit Office, which found that the government’s list of targets for the cash had been published without supporting information to explain why they had been chosen.
The House of Commons’ cross-party Public Accounts Committee had also said the lack of transparency had left to concerns of “political bias” in the allocation of funds.
Forty out of the first 45 schemes to be approved under the fund in March had at least one Conservative MP.
Jolyon Maugham, the barrister who founded the campaign group bringing the suit, said at the time: “If you think that it’s coincidence that Tory marginals are huge beneficiaries I have a fine bridge to sell you. To ensure the Tories don’t use public money for party purposes, the Good Law Project is suing.”
Source: The Independent