'Operation Moonshot': We need answers

by Good Law Project, EveryDoctor and Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity

'Operation Moonshot': We need answers

by Good Law Project, EveryDoctor and Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity
Good Law Project, EveryDoctor and Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity
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Good Law Project is a not for profit that uses strategic litigation for a better world. EveryDoctor works for a future where every patient and doctor is safe. Dale Vince is the founder of Ecotricity.
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Latest: Oct. 22, 2020

Government’s ‘Operation Moonshot’ fizzles out behind closed doors

The ‘Operation Moonshot’, Government’s grand plan to develop a rapid turnaround testing programme, has predictably fizzled out into a damp squib. 

In response to legal action by…

Read more

‘Operation Moonshot’ is the Government’s latest plan to increase the national coronavirus testing programme. The need for increased testing couldn’t be clearer. Yet leaked documents have revealed Operation Moonshot is based on technology that doesn’t even exist yet - and will cost over £100 billion.


This is a staggering sum of money - a generational sized millstone of debt. Yet we know nothing about who has made the decision to spend it, or with what safeguards, or with whom, or why with these counterparties.


What we do know is that experts from SAGE, the Royal Statistical Society, the National Screening Committee and the World Health Organisation have grave concerns about whether it is the right thing to do. 


We have outlined their concerns in our Pre-Action Protocol letter here.


We’ve already seen what happens when Government abandons rigorous procurement processes and good governance:  £12 million on a contact tracing app that never saw the light of day; £200 million on a centralised test and trace system that failed to reach almost half of infected people's contacts; over £150 million on masks that will never be used in the NHS


We cannot afford more incompetence and wasted money when the stakes are this high. We need honest and open answers from this Government about ‘Operation Moonshot’. But the Government is not forthcoming - it has ignored letters from our lawyers - which is why, along with EveryDoctor and Dale Vince, we are taking legal action to get answers. 


The details:

Good Law Project, EveryDoctor and Dale Vince have instructed Bindmans and Maya Lester QC from Brick Court Chambers and Joseph Barrett from 11KBW.


10% of the sums raised will go to the Good Law Project to help it develop and support further litigation in the public interest. It is our policy only to raise sums that we reasonably anticipate could be spent on this litigation. However, if there is a surplus it will go to support and enable other litigation we bring. Our founder, Jo Maugham QC, continues to work unpaid.  



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Update 2

Good Law Project, EveryDoctor and Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity

Oct. 22, 2020

Government’s ‘Operation Moonshot’ fizzles out behind closed doors

The ‘Operation Moonshot’, Government’s grand plan to develop a rapid turnaround testing programme, has predictably fizzled out into a damp squib. 

In response to legal action by Good Law Project, Dale Vince, AI Diagnostics and EveryDoctor, the Government has quietly agreed that ‘Operation Moonshot’ will be absorbed into the existing Test and Trace programme. They have also abandoned plans to spend £100 billion, a figure first revealed in the Government’s own leaked documents, on the project. 

It’s a far cry from Boris Johnson’s grandstanding in Parliament just a matter of weeks ago and more proof of the mess this Government is making of the UK’s testing programme. 

But call it what you like - ‘Operation Moonshot’ or Test and Trace - the Government continues to refuse to answer some really rather basic questions we have been asking for some weeks about their plans for a mass testing programme. Our lawyers have written to Government yet again to press for transparency: 

  • Why were contracts for this programme awarded without any advertisement or competitive tender process? 

  • Why did the Government fail to consult their own experts, the National Screening Committee over the plans for rapid testing? 

  • Will tests delivered by ‘Operation Moonshot’ be free of charge, or will the public be forced to pay, as suggested by Head of Test and Trace Dido Harding?

Unless we get satisfactory answers we will - have no doubt - issue proceedings.

The basic problems with Operation Moonshot - and they are universal to everything this Government procures - are around transparency and accountability. Government is treating the taxpayer as the enemy, not entitled to know why and with whom these vast sums are being spent. We believe that is wrong - we believe it is accountable to the taxpayer for these vast sums - and we will do whatever we can to deliver that accountability. 

Update 1

Good Law Project, EveryDoctor and Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity

Oct. 1, 2020

Utterly inadequate

On 24th September, lawyers acting on behalf of Good Law Project, EveryDoctor, and Dale Vince’s Ecotricity wrote to Government with two simple requests. We asked whether they had already awarded contracts in connection with the secretive £100bn+ ‘Operation Moonshot’ and asked them to agree not to enter into any new contracts until we had had the opportunity to consider the supposed lawfulness of their ‘Moonshot’. 

Government’s reply, which you can read here, is utterly inadequate. In the words of our legal team, these are carefully chosen words that leave the current position completely unclear’. They failed to answer meaningfully whether they have entered into any contracts in regard to ‘Operation Moonshot’, and they have not agreed not to enter into any new contracts.

We are left to glean what we can from leaks to the press and (perhaps unintentionally) illuminating comments on private webinars like Dido Harding’s to the CBI, who disclosed Government’s secret plan to charge the public for Operation Moonshot tests. The implication that vast sums of public money are being used to advance commercial interests and establish a two-tier NHS, with better healthcare for those who can pay, raises further serious concerns about the lawfulness of the Moonshot project. Add into the mix suggestions of nepotism and significant conflicts of interest – with Boris Johnson’s brother, Max, appointed as an adviser to a company shooting for Moonshot riches – and you can understand why legal action is so critical.

Government appears intent on keeping us in the dark about their £100 billion shot in the dark. But we are not letting up. Our legal team continues to push for more comprehensive answers from Government. If they are not forthcoming, we will sue.

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