Have Grayling’s failings finally caught up with him in row over no-ferry ferry firm’s costs?

Chris Grayling: Perhaps it’s finally time he came out of the cabinet.

Calamity-prone Chris Grayling has lied directly to Parliament, it seems, over the small fortune he spent on consultants in connection with Seaborne Freight, the ferry firm that had no ships.

We all know the story by now: Grayling authorised a contract for post “no deal” Brexit freight ferry work with Seaborne, a company that had no ships, no trading history, and no previous experience running such a service.

Not only that, but the firm’s internet page cut-and-pasted its terms and conditions from a takeaway website, its log-in portal was found to redirect directly to Google’s home page; and neither of the listed phone numbers appeared to be manned, with both stating ‘there is no one available to take your call’ and offering no chance to leave a message.

Other features, such as language settings, were only for show and could not be clicked; and despite Mr Grayling saying Seaborne was on track to run services from April, the firm’s recruitment page was empty when it was checked last month.

Last week it was revealed that the deal was being secretly supported by an Irish firm – Arklow Shipping – but this company had now backed out and for this reason, Mr Grayling was cancelling the £13.8 million deal.

All of that would normally be enough to cancel anybody’s contract of employment – but Mr Grayling is an MP, and we have already seen that they can get away with almost anything.

One thing they can’t avoid, though, is retribution for intentionally misleading Parliament, and it seems Mr Grayling may come unstuck on this point.

Responding to an urgent question on Seaborne in Parliament on February 11, Mr Grayling claimed that no taxpayers’ money had been wasted on it. He said: “We have spent no money on this contract.”

But a report by the National Audit Office from earlier this month contradicts the claim, stating that his department had “spent approximately £800,000 on its external consultants: Slaughter & May; Deloitte; and Mott MacDonald” in the procurement process.

Worse, the report states that Mott MacDonald had found “significant execution risks” in the bid from Seaborne Freight – and Deloitte claimed they could not complete the review of the firm because of “a lack of existing financial information due to [Seaborne Freight] only being incorporated in April 2017″.

Is that enough rope with which to hang him?

It depends.

Some say Mr Grayling is kept in the Cabinet because he makes everyone else look competent.

Some might disagree with that. Let’s see what Theresa May has to say about it – if she even dares poke her ever-lengthening nose above the parapet.

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6 thoughts on “Have Grayling’s failings finally caught up with him in row over no-ferry ferry firm’s costs?

  1. Stu

    Something that’s always troubled me is how these solicitor and consultation fees are conveniently compartmentalised within Government budgets and mysteriously forgotten.

    For example, if a FOI request was possible to ask for the total expenditure on solicitors and consultations as well as bonuses concerning the Sanction Regime and Universal Credit, it would suddenly become obvious who is actually miliking the system and that the expenditure far outweighs any benefit from cutbacks.

  2. Meryl Davids

    Not all the story you missed the part about the eu telling Ireland to instruct the parent company not to go through with the agreement.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      That is fake news. Neither the EU nor the Irish government exerted any pressure on Arklow. The decision was purely commercial.

  3. nmac064

    This whole business stinks of corruption. As far as this contract is concerned I suspect Grayling is more corrupt and dishonest than incompetent. It needs to be investigated properly.

  4. Pat Sheehan

    This is the first government in the history of the UK to be found guilty of ‘contempt of parliament’!
    Its prime-minister made one of the worst political miscalculations of modern political history by calling for the ‘snap’ election in 2017 having given ‘assurances’ there would be no such thing and losing the majority!
    And this is all on top of her predecessor Mr Cameron making probably one of the most calamitous political decisions of all time and engineering some of the most savage policies ever to be inflicted on the British public in the name of ‘Austerity’ with the connivance of the scurrilous Lib Dems!
    And despite all of this, the Brexit Circus, the Brexit Non-Ferry fiasco and all the rest they are still there haunting No 10 and the corridors of Westminster on the basis of winning just 42.45% of the 2017 election. Still claiming to be ‘strong and stable’, still claiming to be listening with the national debt doubled and the economy going to hell in a hand-cart and there’s no shifting them!
    The political system of governance in the UK is a travesty and screams out for fundamental change!
    What we have now doesn’t need a House of Parliament: it could operate quite effectively from a ‘Big Top’!

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