Whistleblower exposes conflict of interest at the heart of HS2

A whistleblower exposed a significant conflict of interest at the heart of the government's controversial HS2 project which led to the withdrawal of American firm CH2M from the contract, City AM reported yesterday.

CH2M was set to be awarded the HS2 contract when a whistleblower alerted rival firm Mace to a major potential conflict of interest involving former HS2 Chief of Staff Chris Reynolds, who had taken up a role with CH2M three months after leaving HS2. Upon questioning, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling claimed that the onus was “first and foremost” on the firms bidding to conform to the rules, rather than on the Department for Transport (DfT) or HS2 to look for possible concerns.

Pirate Party Whistleblowing Spokesperson Rebecca Sentance said:
    
"It seems incredible that the Transport Secretary believes the companies involved in the bidding process should also be responsible for regulating it, and is disavowing all responsibility for his Department to be aware of the goings-on at the heart of this major government contract.

"In this case, it was lucky that a whistleblower inside CH2M acted quickly enough to halt the contract. This incident reinforces the importance of whistleblowing as a last resort when the established system of checks and balances has failed; but it should not be a replacement for regulation, oversight and transparency - particularly on a project of this scale.

"The Pirate Party strongly believes that the route to better governance is through increased transparency and accountability. In this instance, the DfT is clearly responsible for ensuring that tendering processes for public transport are held fairly and transparently, and in a way that matches the interests of the public - not the companies competing for the contract.

"Furthermore, it is wrong to expect whistleblowers to put themselves at risk to expose this kind of wrong-doing. The Pirate Party believes that whistleblowers should be protected by law: no one should fear persecution for making the public aware of a breach of the law, or of unethical behaviour in publically funded projects.."

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The Pirate Party in the UK is a fledgling political party. It has fielded a few candidates in European and National elections, but like most small parties it is significantly constrained by the UK electoral system. Despite this, the Pirate Party now has a representative in local government and is looking to build support from the grassroots. The party will be standing candidates in the June 2017 General Election.

Find out more about the UK Pirate Party at https://pirateparty.org.uk/ or contact campaigns@pirateparty.org.uk

Friday, 21 April, 2017 - 15:45
Rebecca Sentance

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