23/01/2022 Kier named in a Daily Mail article about Smart motorway firms being probed:
Separate papers also show that workers employed by the main contractor, Kier, for another scheme ‘manipulated’ tender processes, awarded a subcontract worth £1.4 million in breach of rules and that this was ‘influenced by bribery’. The claims were in relation to a stretch of the M6, junctions 13 to 15, also being converted.
The internal National Highways papers state: ‘Evidence found during this investigation supports the allegations made but is insufficient to identify individuals.’
Tory MP Karl McCartney, who sits on the Commons transport committee, said: ‘I believe these alarming allegations need more investigation.’ It is understood no formal police probe was launched. Read more here.
- Why is there a need to identify ‘individuals’? There is evidence Kier was involved in bribery; what action will be taken against the company?
‘It takes two to tango’:
- Who at National Highways was involved in the tender process?
- Why does Kier need to pay bribes to secure contracts …. and how do they recoup this additional expenditure; increased costs or savings on quality … or just an over-run on a budget the taxpayer will need to pick up?
- Who else tendered, spent time and money on their presentations, only to be thwarted by corrupt parties?
- How did National Highways justify their selection of Kier to hide the involvement of bribes?
- Is it really that difficult to identify the Kier employees and the Authority staff involved in the process and of a standing such that they would need to be influenced?
We have long alerted the Authority to contract non-compliance and fraudulent conduct by Kier. In 2018, as a result of our concerns, KPMG issued a report (Project Verde) which we understand supported our allegations of inflating costs to drivers, fleets, hauliers or their insurers (transcript here). It appears the Authority sat on the report for a year. Our 2019 request for the document was denied with Kier fighting to keep it secret – a current Information Tribunal matter (read more here).
In 2020, a Cardiff Judge was considering many claims (100+?) in respct of which Kier had issued proceedings in the name of the Authority. Kier’s own witness gave evidence ‘to the effect that the costs calculated for the purposes of the claim did include uplifts for which he was unable to find authority within the contract‘ (HHJ Harrison para.36).
- Is National Highways the appropriate authority to investigate themselves given their failure to identify those involved? Time to self-report?
26/01/2022 update – Smart motorway chiefs face probe over handling of fraud and corruption allegations (Daily Mail). Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last night vowed to review the ‘incredibly serious’ allegations.
Bribery and corruption are crimes!
Do you know a Kier employee? Please direct them to Kier’s Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy (Including Gifts and Hospitality) which can be read here (not necessarily the latest version).