The committee is saying it believes the mayor knew about delays about a month before they went public
Members of the London Assembly's transport committee have accused London mayor Sadiq Khan of misleading them about the near-year long delay of Crossrail.
Caroline Pidgeon, the committee's chair, said the evidence received showed it is highly likely that the mayor was informed on or soon after 19 July that there was very likely to be a delay.
The committee said Khan had told the London Assembly on 6 September that Crossrail had not informed him of the delay to opening Crossrail until 29 August, but said that Transport for London had "definitely" been told of a likely delay on 19 July.
The committee members said it seemed highly likely that given the mayor is chair of TfL he would have been briefed then too. They also said that Crossrail told the Assembly it had briefed the Mayor on 26 July.
Pidgeon said: "It may have been justified to wait for clearer information before a public announcement. However, it is arguable that maintaining that he was completely uninformed is misleading.
“It is also an absurd situation to have the TfL board publicly discuss a Crossrail paper suggesting the project is on track, as it did on 25 July 2018, before turning off the cameras for the ‘real’ discussion where bad news was shared.
“As chair of TfL, the mayor is directly responsible for this practice, which must end. We demand that all Crossrail discussions by the TfL board and its sub-committees are held in public. Where commercially sensitive items need to be discussed in private, agenda papers and minutes should still be published and these must be kept to a minimum.
“The mayor needs to be held accountable for the apparent secrecy and misleading information regarding the details of this project. Such practices must not be repeated in future projects such as Crossrail 2.”
The committee said evidence was gathered from the mayor, TfL and Crossrail in a full assembly meeting on 6 September and a transport committee meeting on 12 September.
In a letter to Khan, the committee called for clarity on when he, Crossrail and TfL first knew that the project's launch would be delayed.
In response a spokesperson for the mayor said: “The mayor did not hide his anger and disappointment when Crossrail Ltd announced that the central section of the project wouldn’t be opening until Autumn next year - anger and frustration made worse by the length of the delay and how late in the project it was announced.
“The mayor has expressed his frustrations directly to the leadership of Crossrail – both privately and during meetings in public. The mayor has now asked Crossrail Ltd and TfL to look into whether the joint sponsors should have been made aware of the revised schedule at an earlier date, and whether the right scrutiny and oversight is in place as the project moves to its final phase.
“As part of this, The Mayor has asked the TfL Commissioner to arrange for an independent review of Crossrail’s governance, to report next month."
The spokesperson reaffirmed it was only following the Crossrail Board on 29 August that TfL and DfT were informed of the need for a significantly revised schedule and a new opening date for the project.
The transport committee has also revealed that it has just learnt of a statement TfL made to the London Stock Exchange on 24 July 2018, which made no mention of the delay. Crossrail informed TfL ‘they could no longer have confidence in the date of opening’ on 19 July.
The committee has written to the Financial Conduct Authority for clarification on this issue.