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NHS High Court victory: Whittington Health wins case against Grenfell-linked developer Ryhurst

PUBLISHED: 11:30 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:40 01 March 2020

The Whittington Hospital in North London. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

The Whittington Hospital in North London. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

PA Archive/PA Images

A High Court judge has upheld the Whittington Health NHS Trust’s decision to ditch the controversial Grenfell-linked contractor which had been set to lead its estates transformation programme.

Judge Stephen Davies, who heard the case in the Business and Property division of the High Court ruled: "Having considered the evidence and the arguments my decision is that Ryhurst has not succeeded in making out its case on liability so that its claim must fail."

Ryhurst - a subsidiary of the company Rydon which was involved in the refurbishment of the Grenfell Tower before the tragic fire in June 2017 - claimed the trust broke procurement law when it backed out of the partnership in June 2018.

But in his findings, Judge Davies said Ryhurst had not established "that the decision was manifestly erroneous or irrational or disproportionate or not objectively justified".

Responding to the ruling, Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn told this newspaper: "I welcome the court decision not to award Rydon any 'compensation' for their not getting a contract with Whittington Health.

"I am appalled that a company like Rydon would even think of demanding money for a contract they didn't get and I hope this is a salutary warning that our NHS is not going to be ripped off by contractors who don't get jobs."

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Judge Davies' ruling continued by saying it was "too simplistic to say" as Ryhurst's lawyers had argued, that the trust's only reason for abandoning the programme was due to an "ill-informed" link between Ryhurst and Rydon.

Whittington Health's chief executive Siobhan Harrington said the trust was "very pleased at this outcome".

She said: "We were always disappointed that Ryhurst chose to take legal action and we defended our decision to abandon the procurement robustly.

"We have already pushed forward with a number of improvements to our buildings - on our hospital sites and in some of our community locations - including refurbishing our postnatal ward, opening a new obstetric theatre and demolishing the Waterlow Building to make way for modern and efficient education facilities for our staff."

A Ryhurst spokesperson said: "We are disappointed with the outcome and are considering our position."

The Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition (DWHC) who had lobbied throughout 2017 and 2018 for the hospital to abandon the partnership with Ryhurst welcomed the news.

Its chair Shirley Franklin told this newspaper: "It's wonderful, I think we all played our part.

"It was always an appalling decision to hire that company. It absolutely should never have come to this, The whole thing has been a sorry saga. This is about what happens when you don't fund the NHS properly. It's what privatisation does."

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