Monday, July 12, 2021

HS2 Under Heavy Fire Once Again as Lord Attacks Politicians from the PM Downward

Accusations of Misconduct in Public Office
Shipping News Feature

UK – Beware the wrath of a man who actually knows what he is talking about. Like a thorn in the paw Lord Tony Berkeley has persistently criticised the development and cost overruns of the HS2 project and now he has fired a torpedo into the heart of government by meticulously listing events and statements which he says misled Parliament and evidences Ministerial fraud.

For those who don’t know the history, in May last year a Public Account Committee (PAC) report supported Berkeley’s facts at the time saying ‘the failure of the Accounting Officer to provide accurate information to Parliament is potentially a breach of the Civil Service Code and a breach of parliamentary privilege’.

In 2019 the government actually appointed Berkeley, an acknowledged expert in all matters rail borne, as Deputy Chair of the Oakervee Review commissioned by the Government to evaluate the future of HS2, all ten Review panellists including Berkeley, were dismissed prior to the report being finished, and despite Grant Shapps saying he would publish as soon as he received it (November 2019) it lain untouched to February 2020 during the General Election run up when it was published after being leaked to the Times.

The other nine panel members were said to ‘fully support’ the report although very little was actually heard from them, and Berkeley came under fire, with vested interests saying he was ‘completely and factually wrong’ without elucidating. Now Berkeley has forensically examined and disseminated the facts in a letter to the Cabinet Secretary and a 5,500 word examination of the alleged offences.

Berkeley claims that for over 5 years, ministers from the present Prime Minister downwards knew about the ballooning costs of HS2, but chose to keep the true costs from parliament in order to get the project approved. He says the BBC and other media were also well aware of these issues, but failed to challenge ministers in a manner that one would expect from a free press.

This is the conclusion contained in a detailed letter and attachment sent by Lord Berkeley to Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case, on 9 July, that Boris Johnson and other ministers knew about the cost overruns in 2015/16 but failed to inform parliament on the true costs right up to Royal Assent of the Phase 1 Bill in February 2017.

Berkeley accuses Nus Ghani MP, then Transport Minister responsible for HS2, who he says repeatedly told the Commons in 2019 that there was no change to the budget when she and officials must have known of the £20 billion increase in costs, and Civil Servant Bernadette Kelly of lying to the PAC by omission, hiding a £7 billion cost overrun and a three year delay.

The letter, and its attachment ‘Misconduct in Public Office’, can be read in full HERE and HERE respectively, with suitable weblinks showing where the good Lord gets his evidence for what are, after all, very serious allegations.

Photo: Image courtesy of HS2.