Transport department just accepted verbal ‘guarantees’ from firm with no ships, parliament watchdog told

The top civil servant from Chris Grayling’s department has admitted the government did not have a written guarantee of secure financial backing before handing a £13.8m contract to a ferry company with no ships.

Bernadette Kelly, the Department for Transport’s permanent secretary, told the public accounts committee that instead officials accepted verbal guarantees from Seaborne Freight and were reassured that the firm was a “known quantity in the industry”.

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