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Open corruption in the UK in the form of “brown envelopes” is rare. We weave a subtler web, unholy alliances in which those already wealthy entrench their position – and that of friends and family – with high salaries from consultancy and non-executive directorships supporting some political or corporate interest.
An earlier post on this website covered the report that Roy Hill, managing director of the US headquartered engineering company CH2M, had been seconded to HS2 acting chief executive on a temporary basis.
Mr Hill had worked at HS2’s offices in Canary Wharf for CH2M between 2012 and 2014 after the company won the role of development partner carrying out preparatory work.
CH2M further entrenched?
In Gill Plimmer’s FT article (February 2017) readers were reminded that Mark Thurston, an executive at CH2M, has now been appointed chief executive of HS2 Ltd, replacing the aforementioned Roy Hill. He will take over in March.
However, after a competitor threatened legal action (conflict of interest), in March this year CH2M handed back the contract to design the second phase of the £56bn HS2 — extending the London-Birmingham link on to Manchester and building a branch from the Midlands to Leeds.
HS2 fortified by lobbying consultancies MHP and Westbourne Communications
MHP employees: former politicians and civil servants/government advisers, including:
- Jane Wilson (public relations, civil service adviser), managing director, corporate affairs team. Former chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and reviewer for the Department for Education.
- Charles Clarke Former Labour Party MP, hired to ‘provide advice to its team’.
- Edward Davey – former secretary of state for energy and climate change until May 2015.
Westbourne Communications co-founded and run by Conservative James Bethell, the 5th Baron Bethell. Other environmentally damaging causes supported include fracking and extending Birmingham airport. As Transport secretary, Philip Hammond attended the launch of Westbourne’s Campaign for High Speed Rail, when rail companies were asked to pay £10,000 each to a fund. At a dinner organised by Westbourne in November 2012, transport minister Simon Burns said the campaign’s efforts were “greatly appreciated”. HS2 champion Lord Adonis has also spoken at the firm’s events. Westbourne provided the secretariat and press office for the all-party group for high-speed rail, paid for by rail and commercial interests: TSSA, Bruntwood, South West Trains, Abellio, Eurotunnel and Core Cities. With the passing of the HS2 bill (first phase) this APPG has now been disbanded.
The records of potential HS2 suppliers also need to be scrutinised
The president and managing director of Alstom Transport UK & Ireland, which was bidding to provide HS2 trains, stepped down over corruption allegations relating to the supply of trains to the Budapest Metro. Other legal actions facing the company relate to bribery allegations in connection with transport contracts in New Delhi, Tunis, Lithuania and Warsaw.#