Ministers seek to block publication of report that describes HS2 as in danger of failing

Ministers are planning to block a report that describes HS2 as in danger of failing, labelling it “red/amber”.

According to the Daily Mail, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin and cabinet office minister Francis Maude have written to David Cameron asking him to veto the release of the report.

The Project Assessment Review would create “political and presentation difficulties”, according to a leaked copy of the letter, “at a crucial point in the HS2 project’s development”.

HS2 opponents are using Freedom of Information requests in an attempt to force the release of the document, and the Information Commissioner has ordered the release of the report despite ministers’ objections, a decision ministers are considering an appeal against.

The letter continues: “We consider that the importance the government attaches to the successful implementation of the HS2 project . . . justifies the use of the veto in this case as exceptional.

“Disclosure of such recent information would also have a chilling effect on assessments of other government projects and, indeed, on advice prepared for government ministers on many other subjects.

“Counsel has advised that it will be better to veto now rather than after an adverse tribunal decision.”

Joe Rukin, from Stop HS2, described it as “absolutely disgraceful” and said: “It seems that David Cameron’s so-called transparency agenda is just a fraudulent aspiration.”