HS2

26.10.18

Crossrail investigation should ‘absolutely’ be launched if delay claims are true, assembly transport chair says

The Crossrail board, London mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL should absolutely face a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) investigation if claims of misleading Londoners during the discovery of the Crossrail delay are true, according to the London Assembly’s transport committee chair, Caroline Pidgeon.

“This is really serious stuff,” Pidgeon said. “We feel on the assembly that the mayor misled Londoners, misled the assembly about when he really knew about the delays to this project. They may well have misled the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and there are serious penalties from that which could be issued by the FCA if they should choose. It does suggest to me that they’re taking this seriously and they may well want to investigate.”

In an interview with RTM, Caroline Pidgeon MBE said it is “hugely frustrating” that the mayor of London aims to be a transparent and open mayor, yet on Wednesday held a meeting between London transport bosses and the Crossrail board behind closed doors.

Earlier this month, the London Assembly accused the decision-makers behind the £15.4bn project of misleading Londoners over the Crossrail delay announced at the end of August. The transport committee argued that despite definitively being told of the nine-month delay on 19 July, TfL made a statement to the London Stock Exchange five days after that made no reference to the delays.

Last week the transport committee wrote to the FCA notifying them of the “grave discrepancies” between accounts from those behind Crossrail, and the financial regulator shortly after announced it was considering an investigation into the claims.

When asked whether a full investigation into the claims is necessary, Pidgeon said: “If they have potentially misled the market, then yes absolutely. Any private company would be looked into and just because they’re public, there’s no excuse for this poor practice.

“It’s very clear from the evidence my committee has received, that from May/June it has been unlikely that Crossrail will open—that is what the chair of Crossrail has told us. And in July they told those sponsors that it was very unlikely that it would open on time. To have not made this clear when the statement went out to the markets, surely it is of great concern and the FCA should investigate it.”

Pidgeon noted that following the closed-doors meeting yesterday, it would be a “very strong message” from Sadiq Khan if future meetings were held in public.

“Given that this project is over budget and over time, Londoners and the public deserve some answers to find out what extra money is going to be needed, when will this railway line open, and to have confidence in Crossrail going forward, and that’s why we really would urge the mayor to have far more meetings in public—yes you might want to talk about the actual fiscal figures in private, but the general discussion can still be in public if they want it to be.”

Earlier this month a group of MPs called for Crossrail to be expanded to Kent and connected to HS1.

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