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Mace will not take HS2 complaint to High Court

high speed rail

Mace has decided not take High Speed 2 Ltd (HS2) to the High Court over the controversial procurement of its phase 2b development partner role.

Rival bidder Mace had threatened to take HS2 to court after conflicts of interest claims saw the appointed partner, CH2M pull out from the role. The contract was then handed to next in line Bechtel.

“Despite the flawed process, we have decided that the importance of the scheme to the national interest, particularly the North of England, outweighs our drive for taking action,” the company said. “It is imperative that HS2 now focus its attention on delivering this essential project both on time and in budget.”

Transport secretary Chris Grayling dismissed CH2M pulling out as “not a massive issue” at the time and ignored calls from several MPs for an independent inquiry into the “goings on” at HS2 Ltd.

However, after a grilling by a Transport Select Committee, HS2 said it was to tighten its procurement process by asking for employees working on bids to be named. This would allow it to carry out its own checks on employee history and avoid any future conflicts of interest.

At the committee hearing, it emerged Mace acted on information given to it, but was not the initial whistle blower.

“The recent session of the Transport Select Committee vindicated our position and showed that errors and a failure of judgement occurred during the procurement process,” said Mace. “We take some comfort from the knowledge that HS2 has conceded its failings and will introduce more stringent processes for future procurement.

“We will be meeting with the transport secretary shortly to ensure he fully understands our perspective, and to seek further reassurances on how the process will be improved going forward.”

As part of the hearing HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins said he was grateful to Mace for raising the issue and assured the committee that no company would be disadvantaged from further tenders for whistle blowing. HS2 will also hold a lessons learned session which Mace said it was invited to, to share its views on how the process could be improved.

“When HS2 is spending hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, the public rightly expect procurement decisions to be unbiased, fair, and in the best interests of the United Kingdom,” said Mace.

“Without Mace’s challenge and willingness to stand up and be counted, a light would never have been shone on these problems and HS2’s process would never have been changed.”

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