Serious Fraud Office probes HS2 contracts: Troubled rail scheme in new crisis

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The Serious Fraud Office is probing the HS2 project after being handed a bombshell dossier of documents leaked by a whistleblower, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Investigators are understood to be examining allegations of corruption in the way some contracts may have been awarded to suppliers.

They are also examining claims that some homeowners and businesses on the route of the train network linking London and Birmingham with cities in Northern England may have been swindled out of large sums of money by being forced to sell up for unrealistically low prices.

A source with knowledge of the inquiry last night said SFO officials are ‘deadly serious’ about getting to the bottom of the claims. 

Investigators are understood to be examining allegations of corruption in the way some contracts may have been awarded to suppliers. An artist's drawing of the HS2 link (pictured)

Investigators are understood to be examining allegations of corruption in the way some contracts may have been awarded to suppliers. An artist's drawing of the HS2 link (pictured)

They interviewed a major property owner for two hours last Wednesday after he also made a string of allegations about HS2 and are poring over documents leaked by a former senior HS2 executive.

‘They (the SFO) are deadly serious and they have got documents that came from a former executive. The stuff is lethal,’ said the source. 

‘There are a lot of very good people in HS2 who feel their professional abilities have been impugned, their advice has been ignored and they have no wish to be tarred with this shambles that is about to break.’

The probe has sent shockwaves through the Department for Transport and is thought to have increased the likelihood that Ministers will pull the plug on the controversial scheme.

Meanwhile, The Mail on Sunday understands:

Boris Johnson believes the project is ‘out of control’ and wants to ‘kill it’, according to Government sources, but is concerned about a potential electoral backlash in northern England;Ministers were horrified when told the project’s costs had ballooned from £56 billion to between £86 billion and £88 billion;Officials are investigating claims that some HS2 officials knew the cost had soared above £80 billion as long ago as December 2016;A major clearout of failing HS2 bosses is expected.

The Government last week ordered a review of HS2. A decision on its fate due by the end of the year. 

The review panel, which will be chaired by civil engineer

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