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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Tube reports being 'suppressed'
Tube train
The Tube's future has become a political battleground
London mayor Ken Livingstone has accused the government of "suppressing" reports into the financing and safety of the Labour plans to bring in a public private partnership (PPP) for the Tube.

He was speaking after London Underground lawyers moved rapidly in an attempt to prevent the mayor's transport expert, Bob Kiley, from making public two reports.

The government's PPP simply cannot withstand serious public scrutiny

Ken Livingstone
They are said to bring into question Tony Blair's plans for a PPP to fund billions of pounds worth of investment into the capital's Tube network.

The reports were due to be presented by Mr Kiley to London Transport's board on Wednesday. But he was dismissed from the post by the Transport Secretary Stephen Byers a day earlier after only 10 weeks in the job.

Injunction granted

On Wednesday LU lawyers succeeded in getting a temporary injunction on one report into the financing of the PPP by Deloitte & Touche, but failed to force Transport for London from speaking about a safety report by engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Mr Livingstone said: "Government ministers have repeatedly said that if the PPP does not provide value for money and a safe system it will not be allowed to proceed.

"Now they are suppressing key reports on precisely those questions. This demonstrates that the government's PPP simply cannot withstand serious public scrutiny.

"The tragedy is that even if they succeed in suppressing such vital information at this stage they will not be able to suppress the consequences of a flawed system for the safety and efficiency of the Underground if it is ever put into effect."

Speaking at the same news conference Mr Kiley raised the issue of safety.

He said the report that London Underground lawyers had attempted to prevent emerging into the public domain stated that the Underground's safety standards under the PPP would be "incapable and inadequate to serve as a protective management control system".

There were "material gaps, he added, and said the report concluded a "comprehensive update" was needed which could take up to three years to complete.

Court case looms

The increasing intensity of the political row surrounding the Tube comes as Mr Kiley prepares to take London Underground to court over the legality of the PPP on Monday.

The injunction on the Deloitte Touche report will be reviewed during the judicial hearings, which are set to take place at the High Court.

Mr Kiley saw the court case as "the last roll of the dice" in trying to get a safe tube network established.

He said: "Which ever side prevails there is a possibility of an appeal and further discussions. In any event the procurement must be finished as quickly as possible so that we can proceed with trying to get a system that works."

Byers to press on with PPP

Speaking earlier Mr Byers restated the government's determination to continue with the PPP.

He said it was the only way to get the necessary billions of pounds worth of investment into the Tube network.

On the contracts being drawn up with private companies to work on the re-development of the Tube, he insisted: "There will be an agreement entered into before the Underground is passed onto the mayor and the GLA."

Blair defends sacking

And the prime minister defended the decision to sack Mr Kiley during Commons questions, saying he was incapable of negotiating with the private companies to bring forward the PPP.

He told MPs: "The dispute is not about the running of the Tube but about the financing of it."

Mr Blair added: "We have a duty on behalf of the taxpayer to get value for money and that is what we will do."

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See also:

17 Jul 01 | Business
Q&A: Bob Kiley dismissed
06 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Tube boss gives new safety warning
03 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Tube talks at an 'end' - Kiley
17 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Kiley's clashes over Tube future
17 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Kiley hits out over sacking
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