Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Michael Gove defends using Covid cash for Union polling

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove

Michael Gove has defended spending Covid cash on Union polling, dismissing accusations that the Cabinet Office has misused public funds.

High Court papers released last week revealed that during the height of the pandemic Mr Gove instructed civil servants to commission polls on “attitudes to the UK Union” using the emergency contract given to Public First for pandemic research.

The SNP have since called for a public inquiry into the £560,000 contract, but Mr Gove has denied any wrongdoing.

He told us that it was “right” to commission such work, adding: “The contract was assigned in order to ensure that the UK Government was in a position to be able to make sure that vital messages like ‘hands, face, space’ and ‘protecting the NHS’ were communicated effectively to the public, because clear messaging is an important part of public health overall.”

Asked if it was morally right to use Covid cash for political polling, Mr Gove said: “The decision to award the contracts was not my decision, though I think it was the right decision.

“Indeed the courts pointed out that it was perfectly legitimate to use the procurement process that we did.

“The second thing to say is that we don’t indulge in party political polling and the third thing to say is that the Scottish Government themselves conducted polling into attitudes about the UK Government and the Scottish Government and their respective handling of Covid.”

He added: “Governments doing that are not governments that have lost their moral compass.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford responded: “Despite the government’s best attempts to play this down, the reality is that this scandal will not disappear.

“There are very serious questions for the prime minister and Cabinet Office minister to answer over how they siphoned off public money for their own political purposes.

“There must be accountability. If the Tory government genuinely believes it has nothing to hide or that it has done nothing wrong, then the Cabinet Office minister will set the record straight and the prime minister will commit to a full public inquiry.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

More from The Courier UK politics team

More from The Courier