2 May 2021

‘Sunlight’ is a collection of cyanotypes of essential medical equipment, drugs and other supplies and services which were badly needed in the early stages of the pandemic but were either in short supply or were entirely inadequate and below standard. These are paired with screen grabs of some of the government ministers and advisers who stand accused of having pre-existing connections and conflicts of interest, some of them undeclared, with companies hired at great expense to provide these supplies and services.

Noting such relationships do not imply politicians concerned directly profited from these relationships, but that is not the point. A conflict of interest exists, whether or not the persons involved profit from it, or are even aware of it. As the ministerial code, which binds all serving ministers notes ‘Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests’.

This is exactly why such relationships must be disclosed, laid bare in the light of day for discussion and judgement. As the lawyer and justice Louis Brandeis (1856 – 1941) wrote of the vast and largely unconstrained power of the nineteenth century robber barons ‘publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.’