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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 20:44 GMT 21:44 UK
Official denies Railtrack 'plot'
Sir Richard Mottram
Sir Richard Mottram said there was no plot to kill off Railtrack
There was no conspiracy to kill off Railtrack at the expense of its shareholders, a senior civil servant told the High Court on Friday.

Sir Richard Mottram, the Department of Transport's top official when Railtrack collapsed in 2001, said there was no plot to force it into administration.

Although officials were aware Railtrack had serious problems all options were kept open about its future, he said.

Investors claim the government plotted Railtrack's demise well in advance.

No plan

They are seeking 160m in compensation claiming that the government, headed by former transport secretary Stephen Byers, acted improperly when it sought to place Railtrack in administration in 0ctober 2001.

Sir Richard - permanent secretary at the Department of Transport at the time - rejected suggestions that Mr Byers had overseen a plot to force the rail infrastructure company into administration.

I never saw any sign that Mr Byers was approaching the matter at any stage with a set agenda
Sir Richard Mottram

"There was no such plan and no one within the department of was in any way involved in the implementation of such a plan," he said in his evidence to the High Court.

"I never saw any sign that Mr Byers was approaching the matter at any stage with a set agenda."


Sir Richard - now permanent secretary at the Department of Work and Pensions - was asked about comments made by Mr Byers in 2001 in which he had referred to Railtrack as a "basket case".

He said that although it was clear that Railtrack had serious deficiencies, including weak project management skills and a shortage of engineering expertise, this did not mean that the company did not have a future.

He stressed that no decision was taken on the company's future until 5 October when the government sought the administration order.

The case was adjourned to 19 July.

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