19 June 2003
Government watchdogs have criticised one of the earliest major private finance initiative deals for not building in measures to avoid financial risks.
Managing the performance of private-sector contractors "took a back seat" to getting the Northern Ireland Crown Court Service's Laganside Courts complex operational, the National Audit Office says.
The 16 courts, which replace the nineteenth century Crumlin Road Courthouse, opened in January 2002, three years after the contract was let.
The report was published as Paul Boateng, chief secretary to the Treasury, announced a further £9 billion worth of PFI deals in health, education and housing by 2005.
The NAO said that although the contractors, Consul Service, have performed well to date, the £40 million, 25-year contract was signed in such a way that exposes the Crown Court Service to financial risk for sub-standard service.