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  • You are here:HS2

Former HS2 boss to leave Rolls-Royce

Former HS2 chief executive Simon Kirby is set to leave Rolls-Royce after just 19 months at the firm, Rolls-Royce has confirmed.

Mr Kirby, whose departure from HS2 in September 2016 just days before a public accounts committee report stunned the UK construction market, has been axed from his chief operating officer role at the manufacturing giant as part of streamlining which he himself had intiated, an internal memo revealed.

Prior to joining Rolls-Royce, Mr Kirby served a two-and-a-half-year stint as the head of the £55.7bn rail project.

Roy Hill served as interim chief executive before the role was filled permanently by former Olympic delivery manager Mark Thurston in spring 2017.

Since his departure Mr Kirby has been forced to clarify his role in a redundancy payment scheme for former HS2 employees that had not received the necessary approvals.

Conservative MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown on the public accounts committee, looking into the unauthorised payments, called for action to be taken against Mr Kirby over payments, which he claimed “defrauded taxpayers” of £1.76m.

Mr Kirby released a statement following the committee meeting saying he had had no contact regarding the redundancy payments from the National Audit Office or the Department for Transport, adding that the terms of the redundancies were not decided until after he had left HS2.

Chief executive Warren East’s internal memo to staff said: “As we update our organisation and move to more empowered business units with a much leaner centre, it has become clear that we no longer need the group chief operating officer role for which Simon Kirby was recruited in autumn 2016. It is a sign of his professionalism and integrity that he has played a key role in an initiative that has resulted in his own role being eliminated.”

”Regrettably therefore, Simon will be leaving Rolls-Royce at the end of June. I want to thank Simon for his huge contribution to reducing central costs as part of the transformation programme, despite in doing so, working himself out of his own role.”

A statement released by Rolls-Royce from Mr Kirby said: “I am pleased to have made a contribution to the transformation of Rolls-Royce. I believe that the move to fewer, more empowered operating units with a much leaner centre is the right way forward for the company.

“It is clear that in this model you do not need a chief operating officer and the time is therefore right for me to leave Rolls-Royce to pursue a different career opportunity.”

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