HS2 report will remain secret after rare veto

Marion Dakers
THE GOVERNMENT has refused to publish a critical internal report on the High Speed 2 project, in a rare veto of freedom of information rules.

The paper from 2011, written by the government’s Major Projects Authority, is thought to have given HS2 an amber/red rating, which means “urgent action is needed” to fix the project.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin claimed that releasing the HS2 report “would undermine the proper oversight of the government’s major projects”.

The MPA’s research often contains “frank, and if necessary blunt” comments given under the condition that they would not be widely distributed, he added.

The minister’s decision overrules the Information Commissioner, which ordered him to publish the report last June due to its “very significant” public interest.

The government veto has only been used in a handful cases since freedom of information laws came into force in 2005, including a refusal to publish the minutes of cabinet meetings leading to the Iraq war.

“Independent research says the majority of the population does not want HS2, so why shouldn’t the public know what the MPA has to say on its viability?” said Richard Houghton of the HS2 Action Alliance.