HS2 Crisis Meeting Today

The half a billion pound HS2 conflict of interest row is generating such concern that Guido hears a crisis board meeting has been called today. As the spotlight shines on the board to protect the taxpayer from a legal challenge over the £170 million contract awarded to construction firm CH2M, Guido can report on yet another conflict of interest…

Not only is HS2 Ltd’s current CEO Mark Thurston a former CH2M employee. Not only is HS2 Ltd’s previous CEO Roy Hill a former CH2M employee. Now HS2 Ltd’s former chief of staff Chris Reynolds has been hired by… CH2M! Specifically as programme director for the development partner contract. Industry journal Construction News says this raises further questions about HS2 handing a massive taxpayer-funded contract to a firm that then hired its chief of staff. The revolving door spins ever faster, something for the HS2 board to discuss at their meeting today…

Taxpayers Billed £60,000 Per Month For Conflicted HS2 Boss

Taxpayers were billed almost £60,000 per month so HS2 Ltd could hire the director of a firm it later awarded a £170 million contract. A written question by Cheryl Gillan reveals HS2 Ltd paid US engineering firm CH2M an astonishing £48,500 plus VAT per month pro rata for the services of interim chief executive Roy Hill. Under Hill’s tenure, HS2 awarded CH2M a highly controversial £170 million contract which is currently the subject of legal threats over conflict of interest allegations. The HS2 deal to hire Hill from CH2M is equivalent to a package worth £700,000 per year, nearly five times the salary of the Prime Minister. An extraordinary amount of money for any taxpayer-funded official, let alone one at the centre of a half-a-billion pound conflict of interest row. HS2 is already delayed and over budget, so it is hardly performance related pay. How do the Department for Transport possibly justify these numbers? 

HS2’s Half-a-Billion Pound Revolving Door With US Contractor

HS2 Ltd has today awarded a £170 million taxpayer-funded contract to its CEO’s previous employer. As Guido illustrates above, this is the latest evidence of a revolving door between HS2 and the American engineering firm CH2M. The golden handshakes date back to 2012, when CH2M was appointed as HS2’s “Phase 1 delivery partner”. In March 2016 the firm was appointed as HS2’s “engineering delivery partner”. These contracts were worth some £350 million.

Seven months later, in October 2016, CH2M’s Roy Hill was appointed as the interim CEO of HS2, on secondment from CH2M. Last month HS2 appointed another CEO. Can you guess where from? Mark Thurston also joined from CH2M, replacing his former CH2M predecessor. Very, very cosy…

This afternoon a press release from HS2 Ltd arrived in Guido’s inbox:

“Plans to bring HS2 to Manchester and Leeds took a step forward today with the confirmation that contracts will be awarded to CH2M… CH2M will be become Phase Two B Development Partner”

The contract is worth some £170 million – the shortlist was announced under Roy Hill’s tenure. HS2 Ltd “is an executive non-departmental public body” funded by the taxpayer via a grant-in-aid from the Department for Transport. They have just given a massive taxpayer-funded contract to their CEO’s old company – this smells… 

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Peter Mandelson tells Emma Barnett…

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