'Interference' in consultancy deal forces re-tender

20 April 2008
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21 April 2008 | Paul Snell

The Competition Commission (CC) has had to re-tender a contract for consultancy services investigating a BAA project after one of the airport operator's staff "interfered" in the process.

The CC began a tender for consultants in January to help review Stansted Airport development options suggested by BAA as part of its "Generation 2" project, including the construction of an additional runway.

However, the CC said it became concerned there had been "interference" in the tender and appointment, and was forced to abandon the process and start again. "The CC takes any suggestion of interference in the discharge of its functions very seriously," it said.

When BAA carried out an internal review of its contact with consulting firms, it found evidence of activity that could be seen as interference. BAA told the CC the behaviour was an isolated incident, "in no way" authorised, encouraged or condoned by its management team.

The CC would not give further details as to what the "interference" involved.

A spokesman for BAA told supplymanagement.com: "BAA regrets that the unauthorised actions of one employee could be perceived as interference in the CC's appointment of a consultant."

The CC is currently investigating the airports operator to see if its ownership of UK airports is restricting competition in the market. Initial findings from the study are expected later this week.

"We will continue to engage with the CC as it conducts and concludes its market investigation, and have, in agreement with the CC, revised and reissued our internal guidelines," the spokesman said.


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