Government sued over no-deal ferry contracts

A cross-channel ferry arrives at the port of DoverImage copyright AFP

The government is being sued for its decision to charter firms to run extra ferries, including one with no ships, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel, said the contracts, revealed after Christmas, were decided in a “secretive and flawed procurement process”.

The move comes days after Seaborne, one of the firms chosen, had its contract axed after its funding fell through.

The government said it had carried out a “competitive procurement process”.

“The Department for Transport acted transparently and competitively throughout the process of securing extra freight.

“This was done by approaching ferry operators and encouraging bids that could be fairly assessed against each other,” a spokeswoman said.

At a High Court hearing in London, Eurotunnel claimed the government contracts, announced on 29 December, were awarded without any public notice.

Eurotunnel’s barrister Daniel Beard QC said Eurotunnel only found out “when contract notices were published three days after Christmas”.

He said it was “quite remarkable” his client had not been informed given its recent history in running cross-Channel services.

Ewan West, representing Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in court, said the government’s procurement process was only for “maritime freight” services and that Eurotunnel “could never have provided that capacity” and “could not have complied” with the terms of the contracts.

You may also like:  Greece Church agreement to take 10,000 priests off payroll

Judge Peter Fraser ruled a four-day trial will begin on 1 March given the “obvious” urgency of the case and the “very important public interest matters” involved.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The government announced on Saturday it had decided to terminate its agreement with Seaborne

When the Department for Transport announced the contracts in December, in documents outlining the agreements it stated that an “unforeseeable” situation of “extreme urgency” meant there was no time for the contracts to be put out to tender – the standard practice for public procurements.

However, the BBC understands that a number of firms were considered and there was a private negotiation process.

Three suppliers were awarded a total of £102.9m in late December, aimed at easing “severe congestion” at Dover, in the case of a no-deal Brexit:

  • £46.6m to the French company Brittany Ferries
  • £42.5m (€47.3m) to Danish shipping firm DFDS
  • £13.8m to British firm Seaborne Freight

The decision to award a contract to Seaborne, a firm with no ships which the BBC found had never run a ferry service before, has been heavily criticised.

After Seaborne’s contract collapsed Mr Grayling faced calls for his resignation, with Labour accusing him of “rewriting the textbook on incompetence.”.

You may also like:  Italian deputy PM Salvini confronted over girls' photo

But Prime Minister Theresa May has said she continues to have full confidence in him.

Share this News
Ads Blocker Detected!

We show Ads on Ajibotic.com to help fund its maintenance. Ad revenue is only Our Source Of Income. If you like our News Website  please support our efforts by allowing ads on our site.

Thank You!

Close