High Court row over software used in Covid-19 testing laboratories settled

A High Court row centred on the procurement of software used in laboratories set up by Home Office ministers to provide Covid-19 testing has been settled, a judge has been told.

Two firms behind the “Lighthouse labs”, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, had been sued by a company which uses artificial intelligence to “automate disease” tests.

Diagnostics AI had made complaints and taken legal action.

Chairman Professor Brian Glenville had said during the summer that he wanted a review of the choice of system used to support the analysis of Covid-19 tests.

Lawyers representing all sides in the dispute on Tuesday told Mr Justice Fraser, at a High Court hearing in London, that agreements had been reached and that the litigation had been settled.

No detail of the settlement emerged at the hearing.

But barrister Katherine Apps, who represented Mr Hancock, said the settlement was “purely commercial”.

The judge was told that there had been a settlement “without admission of liability”.

After the hearing, a spokesman for Diagnostics AI said: “We are pleased that the Government has seen the merits of our complaint and have today agreed to settle this dispute.

“However, the sad reality is that we should not have needed to take this legal action in the first place.”

Mr Hancock had been disputing Diagnostics’ claims.

Lawyers representing Mr Hancock had told the judge, at an earlier stage in proceedings, that Diagnostics’ challenge concerned the “procurement of automated outcome software” for “Lighthouse labs” in March and April.

They had said an application for “judicial review” by Diagnostics should be dismissed.

Mr Hancock had set up “Lighthouse labs” and contracted them to provide Covid-19 testing services “on the basis of extreme urgency”, lawyers said.