Page last updated at 09:18 GMT, Friday, 15 July 2005 10:18 UK

In detail: Byers court exchanges

Here is the transcript of the court exchanges which led Stephen Byers to admitting not telling the truth to MPs.

Keith Rowley, the Railtrack shareholders' QC (referring to the select committee hearing in November 2001): Mr Grayling [Conservative MP] asked the question: "Was there any discussion, theoretical or otherwise, in your department before 25th July about the possibility of a future change in status for Railtrack whether nationalisation, the move into a company limited by guarantee or whatever?" Do you see that question?

Stephen Byers: I do.

QC: You see your answer: "Not that I am aware of."

Byers: Yes.

QC: That answer was untrue, was it not, Mr Byers?

Byers: It is true to say there was work going on, so, yes, that was untrue.

QC: That was untrue?

Byers: It was.

QC: Let me just run through with you - there are doubtless more but these are the most prominent examples of the discussion about the possibility of a future change in status for Railtrack. Within three days of taking office you had requested an options paper on Railtrack, did you not?

Byers: Yes.

QC: And that was supplied by Mr Coulshed on 12th June?

Byers: It was.

QC: Was the meeting on 20th June at which it was agreed that an approach would be made to the Treasury to set up a joint working party between the two departments to consider the future of Railtrack?

Byers: Yes.

QC: You received a further copy of Mr Coulshed's paper before your first meeting with Mr Robinson. You received Mr Coulshed's paper again on 26th July. The meeting with Mr Robinson was on 27th July.

Byers: 25th actually.

QC: Sorry, June. Yes, sorry, I have my dates wrong. The briefing paper came to you on 26th June, you met Mr Robinson for the first time on 27th June?

Byers: Yes.

QC: And the briefing paper included Mr Coulshed's paper on options for Railtrack?

Byers: Yes.

QC: On 29th June you provided a briefing to the prime minister in which you said: "My department, the Treasury and the Policy Directorate are accordingly starting joint work to identify all the possible options for Railtrack."

Byers: Yes.

QC: The status of the options for Railtrack's future status were discussed at the stock take on 5th July with the prime minister?

Byers: It was.

QC: On 12th July Mr Hill sent his email to Mr Rowlands that we spent some time over yesterday, in which you expressed the view that you were keen to make quick progress on options for Railtrack. Do you remember seeing that email?

Byers: Yes, I do.

QC: Amidst that welter of documentation you could not possibly have believed that the answer you gave to Mr Grayling was true, could you?

Byers: I accept this is not an accurate statement.

QC: It was deliberately not an accurate statement, was it not, Mr Byers?

Byers: It was such a long time ago, I cannot remember, but it is not a truthful statement and I apologise for that. I cannot remember the motives behind it.

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