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Transport secretary Chris Grayling has responded to a series of questions submitted by Lilian Greenwood, chair of the Transport Select Committee, regarding Seaborne Freight, the company without any ships that won a £13.8 million contract to charter ferries in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Labour MP Greenwood submitted ten questions about how the contract was awarded, and twelve about Seaborne Freight specifically.

Despite the lack of a public procurement process, which he has attributed to the urgency of a no-deal scenario, Grayling told her: “The bids we received to provide capacity were subject to technical, financial and commercial assurance as part of standard due diligence procedures and consistent with that undertaken on all government contracts.

Transport secretary responds to questions regarding Seaborne Freight
Credit: Aimen Ben Aissa

“This included a price benchmarking exercise to ensure that the taxpayer was getting good value for money, and assurance on the delivery plans of our bidders.”

He insisted that management of the company “has extensive experience in the shipping and maritime sector including operation of ferry services.”

Grayling characterised glaring errors on the Seabourne Freight website—which included terms and conditions apparently lifted from a food delivery company—as a matter of “regrettable error”.

Greenwood responded: “It seems extraordinary that the DfT’s response fails to provide any additional insight into why they used emergency powers in the award of the contracts, and to respond to the substance of our questions about the process of securing them.”

Source: Kent Live

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