Former top government chief Sir Tim Lankester brands HS2 a ‘misuse of public money'

Friday, 27th March 2015

A FORMER top government chief who exposed one of this country’s biggest ever funding scandals has warned that HS2 will be another “misuse of public funds”.

Sir Tim Lankester KCB, who lives in Albert Street, Camden Town, has submitted written evidence to the House of Lords committee which published a scathing 970-page report into the £50billion railway on Wednesday.

The former President of Corpus Christi College Cambridge and director of SOAS, in Bloomsbury, was Permanent Secretary of the Overseas Development Administration in the early 1990s when he raised the alarm about what later became known as the “Pergau Dam Scandal”.

He blew the whistle on Margaret Thatcher’s government over hundreds of millions of pounds of public funds sent to Malaysia in a questionable “aid for trade” deal.

In written evidence to the Lords’ HS2 Committee, Sir Tim said: “Spending on this project represented extremely poor value for money. The aid for the Pergau Dam was later heavily criticised by the Public Accounts Committee and in the media, and was eventually declared unlawful by the High Court.

“HS2 is an immensely costly project. Even on the Department of Transport’s optimistic estimates of its costs and benefits, it does not rank as ‘high’ among its value-for-money categories for transport projects.”

He added people living in Camden Town were being unfairly treated when it came to compensation for the railway, which will smash through hundreds of homes in construction works that will affect the whole ­borough for at least 20 years. 

Camden HS2 campaigners Stephen Plowden, Primavera Boman Behram, Fran Heron and Louise Fletcher from the Ampthill Estate, Camden Town Unlimited’s Simon Pitkeathley, Camden Council and New Journal articles have also contributed evidence to the report, which can be downloaded online from the Parliament website.

But in oral evidence, Lord Adonis said: “Compared to King’s Cross St Pancras and the modernisation that has taken place there, Euston is clearly life-expired. 

“There is not a future for Euston that has the status quo and no investment, against the rebuilding – it will have to be rebuilt either way.”

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