De La Rue will appeal decision to give blue British passport contract to Franco-Dutch firm

Decision to award passport contract to a non-British firm provoked outcry last month

Caitlin Morrison
Tuesday 03 April 2018 08:39 BST
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De La Rue is heading to court to challenge the government’s blue passport contract decision
De La Rue is heading to court to challenge the government’s blue passport contract decision (Getty/iStock)

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De La Rue has confirmed it will appeal the decision to award the contract for the blue British passports to a Franco-Dutch firm after Brexit.

The group’s current contract, worth £400m, comes to an end in July, and from that point on, British passports are set to be produced by Gemalto.

De La Rue said Gemalto was chosen only because it undercut the competition, but the UK company also admitted that it was not the cheapest choice in the tendering process.

A De La Rue spokesperson said: “We confirm that we are taking the first steps towards initiating appeal proceedings against the provisional decision to award the British passport contract to a part state-owned Franco-Dutch company. Based on our knowledge of the market, it’s our view that ours was the highest quality and technically most secure bid.”

Louisa Bull, Unite national officer, said the union “strongly supports De La Rue’s legal challenge on the grounds of jobs and protecting communities”.

“There is also the issue of national security. Our current passports are technically secure to a high standard and need to remain so, when concerns about national security continue to be a priority,” Ms Bull added.

“De La Rue makes a quality product and has held the contract for producing UK passports since 2009 without a hitch. We are also concerned about media reports that Gemalto won the contract by simply undercutting its rivals, which, if true, smacks of unfair competition – the government should investigate these claims urgently.”

De La Rue’s appeal follows a campaign by the Daily Mail, including a petition which gathered more than 227,000 signatures, to overturn the government’s decision to award Gemalto the contract.

The announcement that the new, blue passport would be made by an overseas firm was met with outcry by pro-Brexit politicians and groups. At the time, Tory MP Sir Bill Cash, chairman of the Commons European Scrutiny Committee, said the decision was “incongruous to say the least”.

“It is completely unnecessary and it is symbolically completely wrong,” he added.

“Whatever the conditions which led to the decision in terms of pricing, the fact is that this is a symbolic event.”

Additional reporting by news wires

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