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03.12.18

Sir Terry Morgan ‘in absolutely no doubt’ that Khan knew about Crossrail delay

Crossrail’s chairman has insisted that Sadiq Khan was told in July about the need to delay the Elizabeth Line project and chose not to inform the London Assembly, challenging the London mayor’s claims he was in the dark.

The soon-to-be sacked Sir Terry Morgan said in an interview on BBC Radio 4 that he was “in no doubt” that Khan was informed that the timeline for Crossrail was no longer feasible on 26 July, a month before he said he knew about the delay.

The £15.4bn Elizabeth Line was due to open this coming Sunday, but has been delayed till at least autumn 2019. This was reported publicly in August but there has been a running dispute over when the mayor knew about it.

The squabble between TfL and its chair, Khan, and the London Assembly came to a head this summer when the assembly accused Khan of “deliberately misleading” the public and the committee about when he knew about the delay, claims which Khan has since denied.

Terry Morgan, who has held the top position at Crossrail since 2009, told the BBC: “I’m in absolutely no doubt that the mayor was told on 26 July that it was no longer feasible to deliver Crossrail in 2018.”

When asked whether she believed Morgan or Khan, the chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee Caroline Pidgeon said: “I have to say I believe Terry Morgan in this instance.”

“It's quite clear the mayor was briefed in July, and if you are told that a project, a very high-profile project, is at high risk of not opening in the year it was supposed to, you would know about it and to try to pretend you didn't know anything until a day before the public knew at the end of August is not feasible.

“It says you are not on top of the job or you are not taking on board what officers are telling you.”

The cost of Crossrail has soared around £1bn over budget, and last month the government was forced to provide a £350m short-term loan in order to prevent the project being further delayed.

The London Assembly accused Khan of misleading the London Assembly Transport Committee after it “identified grave discrepancies” in evidence given to its investigation into the Crossrail delay.

The committee was investigating when the mayor was first made aware of the delays, and found it highly likely that he was actually aware from July, a claim which Khan responded to by saying he was informed of the schedule and budget pressures but did not know that the project needed to be delayed until August.

Pidgeon said: “This ongoing situation is rapidly causing a loss in trust in the mayor.

“If the Assembly was misled – that is a very serious breach of trust.

 “It is quite incredible that we are yet to receive the Crossrail briefing papers. The longer the delay in delivering them the stronger the feeling of a cover up.”

Image credit -  Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire/PA Images

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