Court of Appeal tells BAA to sell Stansted and a Scottish airport

BAA lost the latest round of a long-running legal saga with the competition authorities over its dominance of the UK's airports yesterday, meaning that it will now be forced to sell Stansted, and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports.

The group, owned by the Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial, lost a hearing in the Court of Appeal brought by the Competition Commission.

The case followed a ruling in the Competition Appeals Tribunal earlier this year which found in favour of BAA: that an investigation by the commission was biased because a committee member – Professor Peter Moizer – was an adviser to Manchester Airport's pension fund, which had expressed an interest in investing in an airport.

BAA, which operates Heathrow and has already been forced to sell Gatwick airport, said it would appeal to the Supreme Court. The company argues that the Court of Appeal accepted that "apparent bias" existed during part of the commission's investigation.

"We are disappointed that the Court of Appeal has upheld two of the five grounds argued by the Competition Commission," a BAA spokesman said. "We note the court's view that apparent bias in relation to a panel member existed during part of the commission's investigation and will study this judgment carefully. We will be seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court."

The earlier tribunal had found that there was apparent bias in the investigation, but yesterday's hearing upheld an argument by the Competition Commission that this was true only between December 2008 and March 2009, after the pension fund had informed Professor Moizer of its intentions.

The Court of Appeal ruled that Professor Moizer's connection to the Manchester Airport pension fund was too remote to have influenced the original recommendation that BAA be forced to sell off a number of assets.

"We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has found in our favour in the BAA case," a Competition Commission spokesman said.

"The effect of this decision is to restore in full our report together with its remedies including the requirement for BAA to sell Stansted and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports, Gatwick having already been sold. Our intention now is to work with BAA to implement these measures in the interests of the travelling public."

The commission said it was tightening its procedures following the decision, and that it took "very seriously the need for our inquiry panels to be completely impartial".

Sources close to the commission conceded that it was not surprised that BAA was seeking leave to appeal.

It is understood that BAA will press Professor Moizer's involvement as the central element of its appeal. BAA believes that having established that there was "apparent bias" after December 2008, it has a strong case.

A source close to the company said: "Several key decisions were taken after that date, including the timetable and the criteria for purchasers. It is not just a technicality."

Chris Yates, an independent aviation analyst, said yesterday: "I'm sure that BAA will do everything it can to challenge this decision – Stansted has been a cash cow for the company and gives it a strong footprint in the South-east of England.

Separately, it is believed that Highstar Capital, which owns a 25 per cent stake in London's City airport is hoping to raise as much as £200m from selling the stake.

New York-based Highstar refused to comment, while Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), the majority owner, did not return calls. GIP also bought Gatwick from BAA last December.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss