The Good Law Project has withdrawn its judicial review challenge over the multi-billion pound “Levelling Up Fund”.
The public interest litigation group had received permission in August 2021 from the High Court to bring the challenge against the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Transport. The court also ordered an expedited hearing.
The Good Law Project was seeking to challenge the lawfulness of the allocation decisions and the methodology that the defendants stated they had used to determine those allocations.
However, the Good Law Project said had “somewhat reluctantly” withdrawn its application. This decision was “based on legal advice about our likelihood of success following disclosure by the Government of its documents”.
The group said it had decided to bring the case, in part, following a message from “a senior source” inside the Cabinet Office, which it said it had received via a highly trustworthy intermediary.
“The intermediary told us: ‘Officials came under enormous pressure from Ministers to favour Tory seats or winnable marginal seats; the criteria were fake and last-minute.’,” the Good Law Project said.
It acknowledged that the documents the Government had subsequently disclosed “tell a different story”. When asked, the Cabinet Office source declined to provide corroboration, it said.
The Good Law Project said the legal advice it had received was that, on the basis of the documents, the Government had disclosed, it had low prospects of success.
The group said that given the prospects of success it did not think it would be responsible for it to spend more money on the case, “or indeed, require the Government to do so”.