High Court challenge over award of helpline contract to G4S fails

The Law Centres Network (LCN) has lost its bid to prevent G4S being awarded a government contract to run the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) helpline.

The LCN had argued before Mrs Justice Simler that the Government had not followed the public sector equality duty in relation to a public procurement decision.

The judge recognised the contract award raised serious concerns, but was not satisfied that further inquiries into the equalities impacts of choosing G4S would have led the Government to choose differently.

EASS provides a free helpline for people who feel they may have been discriminated against. It was previously provided by Sitel in partnership with charity Disability Rights UK.

Article continues below...

LCN’s action was crowdfunded and a 38 Degrees petition objecting to G4S taking over the service attracted more than 78,000 signatories.

Its concerns centred on a dossier, prepared by charity Liberty, documenting incidents in which G4S has been involved including its failure to provide security for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the death of deportee Jimmy Mubenga while in its custody.

Daniel Carey, a solicitor at law firm DPG, who acted for LCN, said: “It is disappointing that the court has allowed the decision, to appoint G4S to provide the equalities and human rights helpline, to stand – even when the judge accepted that it had been made in private and without any analysis of the equalities impact relating to the company’s track record. We will consider with the Law Centres Network the steps now to be taken in light of this decision.”

Neil Malpas, managing director for G4S Employment Support Services, said: “Transferring a facility like this requires a significant level of preparation, and I am grateful to all our partners for the training and support they have provided to our advisers as part of that process. 

“The team appreciate they are under scrutiny, but we are determined to meet expectations, continue to build partnerships and further develop this service to deliver a valuable service to vulnerable people.”

(c) HB Editorial Services Ltd 2009-2020