The authorities is being sued for its resolution to constitution companies to run further ferries, together with one with no ships, within the occasion of a no-deal Brexit.
Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel, stated the contracts, revealed after Christmas, have been determined in a “secretive and flawed procurement process”.
The transfer comes days after Seaborne, one of many companies chosen, had its contract axed after its funding fell via.
The authorities stated it had carried out a “competitive procurement process”.
“The Department for Transport acted transparently and competitively all through the method of securing further freight.
“This was finished by approaching ferry operators and inspiring bids that may very well be pretty assessed in opposition to one another,” a spokeswoman stated.
At a High Court listening to in London, Eurotunnel claimed the federal government contracts, introduced on 29 December, have been awarded with none public discover.
Eurotunnel’s barrister Daniel Beard QC stated Eurotunnel solely came upon “when contract notices have been printed three days after Christmas”.
He stated it was “fairly outstanding” his consumer had not been knowledgeable given its latest historical past in operating cross-Channel providers.
Ewan West, representing Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in court docket, stated the federal government’s procurement course of was just for “maritime freight” services and that Eurotunnel “may by no means have offered that capability” and “couldn’t have complied” with the phrases of the contracts.
Judge Peter Fraser dominated a four-day trial will start on 1 March given the “apparent” urgency of the case and the “essential public curiosity issues” concerned.
When the Department for Transport introduced the contracts in December, in paperwork outlining the agreements it acknowledged that an “unforeseeable” state of affairs of “extreme urgency” meant there was no time for the contracts to be put out to tender – the usual observe for public procurements.
However, the BBC understands that a variety of companies have been thought of and there was a non-public negotiation course of.
Three suppliers have been awarded a complete of £102.9m in late December, geared toward easing “severe congestion” at Dover, within the case of a no-deal Brexit:
- £46.6m to the French firm Brittany Ferries
- £42.5m (€47.3m) to Danish delivery agency DFDS
- £13.8m to British agency Seaborne Freight
The resolution to award a contract to Seaborne, a agency with no ships which the BBC discovered had by no means run a ferry service earlier than, has been closely criticised.
After Seaborne’s contract collapsed Mr Grayling confronted requires his resignation, with Labour accusing him of “rewriting the textbook on incompetence.”.
But Prime Minister Theresa May has stated she continues to have full confidence in him.
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