Eurotunnel which operates the Channel Tunnel has said they are taking the British government to the High Court over how ferry contracts were awarded, one of which had no ferries.
The contracts that transport secretary, Chris Grayling, awarded are worth £108m. According to the Channel Tunnel these were awarded through a “secretive and flawed procurement process.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) argues the “extreme urgency” of preparations for the UK’s Brexit departure justified their process.
Daniel Beard QC, the barrister representing Eurotunnel said at a hearing on Monday, that the procurement process for “additional capacity for transport of goods across the English Channel” was “undertaken without any public notice being issued.”
Beard said Eurotunnel only found out “when contract notices were published three days after Christmas.” He added, it was “quite remarkable” that Eurotunnel was not informed given its recent history in running cross-Channel services.
Beard further added that his client had “no knowledge” about any of the “advanced talks with a number of companies to secure additional freight capacity,” which a spokesman for the prime minister said the government was already engaged in. Even though Eurotunnel had already taken legal action.
Beard told Justice Fraser that two of the three companies the contracts were awarded to are already in “in the business” of providing cross-channel services.
However, Beard went on to say that Seaborne Freight had “apparently intended to do so ”prior to the “collapse” of the DfT contract this weekend.
Graylings defence QC, Ewen West said the procurement process was just for “maritime freight,” therefore Eurotunnel “could never have provided that capacity” and “could not have complied” with contract terms.
Justice Fraser has ruled a four-day trial will be expediated for the “obvious” urgency and the “very important public interest matters” involved.