Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh Tram firm loses appeal to keep files secret

Edinburgh tram Image copyright Getty Images

The company at the centre of the Edinburgh trams inquiry has lost an appeal to have documents it provided to the probe kept secret.

Bilfinger UK had instructed lawyers to return to the Court of Session in Edinburgh seeking a ruling from appeal judges over a decision made by their colleague Lord Tyre earlier this year.

The firm wanted judges to block moves to publish paperwork.

It said the documents were commercially sensitive and could help competitors.

Lord Tyre refused to allow the company permission to stop the inquiry publishing the documents which includes monthly reports made during the tram project to the firm's German HQ.

Lawyers acting for the company argued Lord Tyre had incorrectly interpreted the law.

However in a judgement published on Thursday, the appeal judges Lord Carloway, Lord Menzies and Lord Malcolm ruled Lord Tyre had acted correctly.

Contractual restraints

In a ruling written by Lord Carloway, Scotland's most senior judge, the appeal judges concluded the documents did not contain sensitive information which could damage the business's interests.

Lord Carloway wrote: "The Lord Ordinary had some sympathy for the view that the respondent's reference to the information being available to individuals who were no longer employed by the petitioner's group, was an irrelevant consideration given that such employees would be the subject of contractual restraints.

"He held, however, that it was not a material one. Whilst the court agrees with that reasoning, in fact the respondent was correct in its view, that the information would be available to those no longer employed by the petitioner's group.

"It is not an unreasonable assumption that there will be many former group employees who will have been involved in many projects involving similar information and reports, who have moved on to work for other concerns.

"Whatever the contractual restraints, historical information on the petitioner's working estimates and margins of the type under consideration would likely to be held by many working elsewhere in the civil engineering field."

The Edinburgh trams project, which caused massive disruption to the capital, was delivered years late and more than £400m over budget.

The inquiry into what went wrong has run for three years and cost £7m.

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