Page last updated at 18:36 GMT, Monday, 7 January 2013

Ministers 'not misled' over West Coast franchise

Ministers were not deliberately misled over the abandoned West Coast rail franchise process, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has told MPs.

Replying to Louise Ellman, Labour chair of the Transport Select Committee on 7 January 2013, Mr McLoughlin said: "I don't think they were deliberately misled. I don't think that was the case."

He went on to concede that the bidding process did not involve "the proper workmanship you would expect from civil servants".

The transport secretary told MPs that a report by Eurostar chairman Richard Brown into the system of rail franchising will be published "in the next few days" but did not specify a date.

Philip Rutnam, permanent secretary at the Department for Transport, gave evidence to the committee alongside Mr McLoughlin.

Under questioning from Conservative committee member Steve Baker, Mr Rutnam acknowledged "profound mistakes" had been made and assured him the Department for Transport was "acting vigorously to address its failings".

The government scrapped its decision to award the 13-year West Coast mainline franchise to FirstGroup in October. It was abandoned after civil servants made faulty calculations and provided ministers with incorrect information.

The National Audit Office has estimated the cost of reimbursing four firms for the cost of their bids would be £40m.

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