Dec 6 2012 By Cheryl Mullin
THREE civil servants suspended over the West Coast franchise fiasco have had their suspensions lifted as the Government published a damning independent report into the botched bidding process.
One of the suspended Department for Transport (DfT) officials, Kate Mingay, last week launched legal proceedings against the department.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin had to halt the West Coast bidding after mistakes by the department in the bidding process.
Originally, FirstGroup won the bidding competition and were due to take over the West Coast franchise on December 9 from incumbent company Virgin Trains.
Today, Mr McLoughlin announced Virgin would carry on running trains on West Coast up to November 2014 when a long-term franchise would come into effect.
The DfT said the department's Permanent Secretary Philip Rutnam had decided to lift the three suspensions yesterday.
The department added: “The decision to suspend a member of staff, or to lift that suspension, is separate from the disciplinary process and does not imply any conclusion on culpability.”
Scrapping the West Coast bidding in October, Mr McLoughlin appointed businessman Sam Laidlaw to head an independent review into the West Coast process.
Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson had branded the process “insane” and had launched a legal challenge to the original West Coast decision.
Today Mr McLoughlin finally published the Laidlaw report, telling the House of Commons that the report had found “serious problems” and “unacceptable flaws”.