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Contractor bids to block Edinburgh tram docs release

A German contractor involved in the troubled Edinburgh tram project is attempting to block the publication of internal documents on its delivery.

Bilfinger UK will appeal against a decision by the Scottish Court of Session earlier this month to support the Edinburgh Tram Inquiry’s decision to publish details of the documents.

In 2007, a consortium between Bilfinger and Siemens was awarded a deal to design and build the £376m tram scheme through Edinburgh.

The project was beset with delays and cost overruns, completing three years late and at a final cost of £776m.

In 2014, High Court judge Lord Hardie was appointed to carry out a public inquiry into the project’s cost rises and late delivery.

Bilfinger UK was asked by the inquiry to hand over monthly reports drawn up by the project team during the scheme’s delivery.

After being made aware that the documents would be made public, Bilfinger asked the inquiry not to publish the reports in full, reuqesting instead that they be heavily redacted.

The company claimed the documents contained “commercially sensitive information” that could give competitors an advantage and affect Bilfinger’s prospects of winning work on future schemes.

However, Lord Hardie refused the application, saying there was a strong public interest in the release of the documents, adding that it was unclear as to how the redacted information was commercially sensitive.

Bilfinger took the case to the Scottish Court of Session, calling on it to overturn the inquiry’s decision.

Judge Lord Tyre rejected the request, saying: “For the petition to succeed, the court would require to be satisfied not only that the respondent’s decision was wrong but that it was one that no chairman could reasonably have reached on the basis of the material presented to him.

“In my opinion, no such prima facie case has been made out.”

It has now emerged that Bilfinger will appeal Lord Tyre’s judgement, with a hearing scheduled for 15 June at the Court of Session.

Bilfinger would not comment on the grounds of its appeal.

A spokesman for the company said: “As the inquiry is still ongoing it would be inappropriate for us to comment.”

A spokesman for the Edinburgh Tram Inquiry said: “Bilfinger Construction UK has enrolled a motion appealing Lord Tyre’s decision.

“The matter is now before the court and it would be inappropriate at this stage to make any further comment.”

The inquiry is set to hear its final oral statements this week.

Yesterday the Daily Herald reported that Douglas Fairley, a lawyer for directors of Edinburgh Council’s arm’s length body that delivered the scheme, told the inquiry the tram project represented an “extremely poor deal” for the council and was a “ridiculous contract”.

Edinburgh City Council is currently procuring for the £165m eastbound extension of the tram line.

Bam Nuttall / Colas Rail, Farrans / Sacyr / Neopul, Sisk / Steconfer and Dragados have all been shortlisted for the deal.

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