Firm says court battle would risk serious delay to scheme


Mace has decided against launching a legal challenge against HS2 into its handling of the award of a contract on the railway.

The decision comes after the firm’s chief executive Mark Reynolds met HS2 chairman David Higgins last week to discuss the transport select committee hearing into the issue last month.

A Mace spokesperson said: “Despite the flawed process, we have decided that the importance of the scheme to the national interest, particularly the North of England, outweighs our drive for taking action.  

“It is imperative that HS2 now focus their attention on delivering this essential project both on time and in budget.”

HS2 has awarded the £170m contract – known as phase 2B – to runner-up firm Bechtel after CH2M pulled out of the race in March.

Mace had wanted the contest re-run but Higgins told MPs that starting the scheme from scratch would take up to 12 months to complete.

A source said Mace, which had hired £650 an hour QC Michael Bowsher in its battle, did not want to delay work on the scheme and added: “If we went to court and held this up for a year, year and a half it would cause serious problems.

“We think the project is a good thing but if we held it up then civic leaders in the north would be disappointed if it got delayed”.

Mace has already said its decision to query the circumstances surrounding the award was justified, with its spokesperson saying HS2’s “procurement process was riddled with errors” adding: “If we hadn’t raised these concerns, these serious issues would never have come out.”

HS2 has promised to change its processes to avoid a repetition of the problems and a HS2 spokesperson said: “We take some comfort from the knowledge that HS2 has conceded its failings and will introduce more stringent processes for future procurement.”

Following the award to CH2M in February, Mace was told that a former HS2 chief of staff, Chris Reynolds, had been involved with the US firm’s bid. Higgins told the select committee that Reynolds  “should not have been involved” and admitted he would have asked CH2M to pull out.

At the time it withdrew, CH2M said: “CH2M has demonstrated all appropriate measures taken throughout to ensure the integrity of the procurement process. Notwithstanding these efforts, we have taken the decision to alleviate any further delays to this critical national infrastructure project which could ultimately lead to increasing costs to UK taxpayers, as well as to our firm.”