Wednesday 9 January 2019 11:53 am

Sir Terry Morgan hits back at Sadiq Khan over Crossrail delay: 'I do not suffer from loss of memory'

Former Crossrail chairman Sir Terry Morgan has hit back at accusations from Sadiq Khan that he had "misremembered" the events leading up to the announcement of the project's delay, telling the London Assembly: "I do not suffer from memory loss."

Morgan appeared before the London Assembly's transport committee this morning to answer to the evidence given by Khan to the assembly on 21 December, in which he accused the former Crossrail chairman of “misremembering” events. 

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Last summer a political crisis was triggered over the delay to Crossrail, which was originally set to open last month but has since been delayed past 2019.

The London mayor has maintained he was not informed of the need for a new opening date until 29 August, two days before the public was informed that the railway had been pushed back. Morgan has contradicted his account, saying the mayor was made aware that a 2018 opening date was "no longer feasible" on 26 July. 

At the London Assembly grilling this morning Morgan said he was "disappointed" at the "personalising" of the Crossrail delay against him. 

"I do not suffer from loss of memory," he said. "Do you really think when a piece of paper says delivery in 2018 is not feasible that it is what it is?"

The former Crossrail boss also told the assembly that Transport for London (TfL), which is a joint sponsor of the project with the Department for Transport (DfT), gave him a piece of paper with what to say at a TfL board meeting on 25 July, which removed any mention of there being a delay to the Elizabeth Line. 

He added that TfL also deleted a paragraph in a 19 June Crossrail briefing note to the mayor which removed  the fact that there would be insufficient time to complete testing.

The former chairman is referring to a tranche of Crossrail board minutes released by TfL in a "document dump" at the end of last year.

Among the the documents was a slide shown to the mayor and TfL executives on 26 July that the December opening date was "high risk". The mayor has said that in spite of the warning, neither he nor TfL were given indications of the need for a new opening date.

Following Morgan's account, Khan's deputy mayor for transport Heidi Alexander appeared before the committee. She said: "This idea that on 26 July Sir Terry ruled out a December 2018 opening date is simply not true and it did not happen."

In the first weeks of taking up her post, Alexander said she was struck by the "real resistance and a lack of realism from Sir Terry about what was really going on with this project".

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Responding to Morgan's accusation that TfL had omitted references to the project's delay in certain documents, Alexander said: "I have no knowledge of the process of the preparation of those notes. 

"I would be as interested as you if there were changes made."