The misleading of ministers by civil servants in the West Coast rail franchise fiasco was "not deliberate", Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has told MPs.
But the now-scrapped West Coast bidding process did not involve "the proper workmanship you would expect from civil servants", he told the House of Commons Transport Committee.
The West Coast bidding, which had originally seen transport company FirstGroup chosen to take over from Virgin Trains for a new 13-year franchise, was abandoned by Mr McLoughlin last autumn.
This followed mistakes in the bidding process by civil servants, which also involved ministers being given incorrect information by the Department for Transport (DfT) on which to make a decision on the bids.
Asked by committee chairman Louise Ellman if ministers had been "deliberately misled", Mr McLoughlin replied: "I don't think they were deliberately misled. I don't think that was the case.
"The matter did not involve the proper workmanship you would expect from civil servants. Most of them thought they were acting in good faith, but they were not."
The scrapping of the franchise, with Virgin carrying on until November 2014, has cost taxpayers at least £40 million.