Anger as ‘Baron of Camden' Andrew Adonis takes new role on HS2 board

Thursday, 23rd July 2015


A DECISION to appoint the “Baron of Camden” to the board running the HS2 rail project has been slammed as “deeply depressing” amid renewed calls for him to be stripped of his title.

Lord Adonis – who famously dreamed up the £50billion high-speed rail scheme in 2008 while soaking in his bath – will be paid £1,900 each month for two days’ work as a non-executive director. 

His appointment was made by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin in line with “code of practice for appointing ministers to public bodies”, according to a Department for Transport official. Lord Adonis served as transport secretary under the previous Labour government, despite never having won a public election. When he entered the Lords, he chose the title “Baron of Camden” – a choice which has upset opponents of HS2 which threatens decades of disruption and demolition in the borough.

His non-executive post involves monitoring financial and strategic decisions made by the full-time board members and responsibility for keeping a watchful eye on the £50billion project’s soaring costs.

“It is deeply depressing,” said anti-HS2 activist Martin Sheppard, who this week repeated his calls for Adonis to apologise and be stripped of his choice of title because of HS2’s “devastating effect” on Camden. Mr Sheppard, who lives in Primrose Hill, added: “Lord Adonis remains perversely deaf to arguments other than his own – he must surely have a guilty conscience. He has persistently refused invitations to defend HS2 in public in Camden. He owes it, however, to its people to tell them face to face why they should be HS2’s main victims. The silent overseeing of the delivery of HS2, and the devastation of Camden, is not what we deserve, or should have to suffer, at the hands of our local lord.”

Earlier this year Lord Adonis was invited during a radio show featuring Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley, to apologise for backing the railway scheme despite the uproar it is causing in his chosen realm. Lord Adonis said then: “I visit Camden all the time. I live on the edge of Camden, so I know the issues well. The golden rule of infrastructure projects, is that everyone wants the benefits and no one wants the costs.”

In a statement, Lord Adonis said this week: “We must not duck this challenge of providing Britain with a railway fit for the 21st century.”

The prominent politician was a member of both the Social Democrat and Liberal Democrat parties in the 1980s before joining Labour in 1995 and becoming one of the key figures in Tony Blair’s group of modernisers.

Mr McLoughlin said: “Lord Adonis has been a huge supporter of HS2 right from the start, helping to turn the initial concept into a reality.”

Lord Adonis has never responded to questions from the New Journal about HS2 or to requests to attend public meetings in Camden. 


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