Defendants in fraud case over Tube line extension must now rebuild their lives after a 21-month ordeal

Tunnel trouble: The Jubilee Line case lasted 21 months before it was abandoned last week. An inquiry is to be launched into what went wrong
Tunnel trouble: The Jubilee Line case lasted 21 months before it was abandoned last week. An inquiry is to be launched into what went wrong

The consultants accused of bribery and fraud on the Jubilee Line extension project were this week attempting to rebuild their lives after the two-year case collapsed.

The six men were acquitted last Wednesday when the £60m trial, which has been delayed by jury problems and illness, was ended when the judge discharged the jury.

Earlier, counsel for the Crown had told the court that the trial had been prolonged for so long that to continue it would be unfair to the defendants.

There will now be an inquiry into the handling of the case, which was one of the costliest in British history.

One of the defendants, Paul Fisher, a consultant, told a local newspaper that he hoped to rebuild his career in the rail industry.

He said: “Mud does stick. But fortunately in my case, I have always protested my innocence and continue to do so, and people have believed that.”

Fisher said the 21-month trial had badly affected his professional and personal life, and that the strain placed on him was a “contributing factor” in the break-up of an eight-year relationship.

Fisher said that although he was relieved at the collapse of the trial, he would have preferred to have been acquitted by jury.

He said: “I was always fairly certain of getting a not guilty verdict, but you never know.

“There was a lot of circumstantial evidence put forward. I would have preferred an acquittal by jury – I would have felt more satisfied.”

Another defendant, Mark Skinner, partner in consultant George Skinner & Associates, who became ill during the trial, is going on holiday to work out what he wants to do now the trial has ended.

A close associate of Skinner’s said: “The trial has been a huge burden on Mark. He is going away to reflect on his future.”

Speaking outside the court, Skinner said: “Although I should now feel relief and happiness, I feel only anger.

“Anger at a prosecution that has destroyed my business and tortured my family.”

Trial timeline

  • December 1996: Investigation into financial dealings on JLE project started by British Transport Police

  • June 1997: Building first reveals the police raids on offices of QS RWS Project Services

  • December 1997: Police raid George Skinner & Associates office

  • February 2000: Charges against Stephen Rayment and Mark Woodward-Smith, directors of QS RWS; Paul Fisher, former JLE consultant; Graham Scard, senior manager on JLE; Mark Skinner, partner in consultant George Skinner & Associates; Anthony Wooton, contracts manager working for JLE through GSA; and Paul Maw, employed by London Underground and later RWS

  • April 2003: Pre-trial legal argument begins

  • June 2003: Trial starts with a jury. Paul Maw pleads guilty.

  • March 2005: One juror boycotts proceedings over lost pension contributions. Jury had been cut from 12 to 10 after one member was convicted of benefit fraud and another fell pregnant.

  • 22 March 2005: Jury dismissed. Six defendants acquitted.